DeKALB – A day after a man was beaten and robbed outside his home in the West Ridge Apartments, residents of the area said they weren’t surprised – or happy.
Police said an NIU student was hit on the head and robbed as he left his apartment in the 900 block of Ridge Drive. He was taken to the hospital and treated for a head injury.
The victim told DeKalb police that he was approached by two men about 10:20 p.m. Monday, and that one of them hit him on the head with an object. DeKalb Police Cmdr. Bob Redel said the victim’s wallet and cellphone were stolen, and that the suspects were last seen running east toward the neighboring Amber Manor Apartments.
Redel said the victim was unsure of the weapon used, but that he was pretty sure it was metal. He said officers are looking into leads and reviewing available security camera footage. The victim’s apartment did not have security cameras, he said.
“We’d love for every business and every apartment to have cameras,” Redel said. “At the very least, it’s going to help us solve crime, but it could go a long way in deterring crime, too.
“It’s money, though. That complex has been there a long time.”
People living in the area said they are aware of the crime problems in the area, which includes many apartment buildings and fraternity boardinghouses.
“I think there’s been six break-ins within a mile of the house, so you have to make sure everything is locked up,” said Brandon Simes, a senior at Northern Illinois University. He and junior Oscar Mendoza, members of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity across the street from the apartments, were in the area Tuesday afternoon.
Both agreed the neighborhood is not always safe.
“We were on the tiki deck [of the fraternity] one time and heard gunshots,” Simes said.
It’s not clear whether any of the West Ridge buildings have surveillance cameras. Calls and a message for the apartments’ owner, Herbert Katz, were not returned Tuesday.
Harouna Amadou, an NIU graduate student who lives in the area, said there used to be a security guard on the West Ridge Apartments premises late at night, but not anymore. A lack of surveillance and insufficient lighting has made the area unsafe, he said.
“It’s been really bad – even recently we’ve had people trying to remove parts from cars,” Amadou said. “We need enough lights and cameras so that when bad people see them, they’ll be afraid.”
Last month, DeKalb police requested help from the public in finding suspects in a string of catalytic converter thefts from parked cars, many of which occurred in the northwest region of the city.
Redel said this is the third robbery in the neighborhood since January – one occurred on the same block, and the other in the 800 block of Edgebrook Drive.
“Obviously, we’ve had issues in that whole area with robberies and shootings – I mean, Kimberly [Drive] is two blocks away,” he said.
He called the three robberies in the neighborhood “on par” in a year-over-year comparison.
“One’s too many,” Redel said.
He said this time of year, as the weather warms, more robberies start to happen. He said more patrols are done, and that overtime is being approved for officers to “flood the area.”
Simes said that although police patrol the area pretty well, students sometimes receive emails that 911 is down, followed by a crime alert minutes later – an awful feeling.
Redel said sometimes witnesses are the only ones who can help solve a crime.
“If you see something suspicious, you’ve got to call us,” he said. “You see it all the time in Chicago – people are afraid to talk. We don’t want that to be us here.”
He said businesses are generally helpful in turning over security footage and giving eyewitness accounts.
Anyone with information on Monday’s crime should call the DeKalb Police Department at 815-748-8400 or Northern Illinois University Police and Public Safety at 815-753-1212. Callers can remain anonymous by calling 815-753-8477.