BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — Baton Rouge Police say that as the weather heats up, so-called crimes of opportunity are on the rise, and the criminals behind them are striking when victims least expect it.
“Crime is not on the rise,” Cpl. Tommy Stubbs, Baton Rouge Police Department, explained. “We are seeing robberies. In particular, we’re seeing a lot of smart phone thefts.”
NBC33 spoke to one man who was the victim of such a crime. He says he was walking to a gas station near College Drive and Corporate on Monday, April 30, at around 9:30 p.m. when two males -- possibly teenagers -- asked him for a favor.
"The guy rolled over from Wendy's, asked if he could borrow my phone,” Jon-Erik Hewett, robbery victim, recalled. “I showed him how to unlock it, next thing I know, he punches me in the face and takes off."
Hewett is relatively new to Baton Rouge. He’s a student who moved here about a year ago from the Leesville area. However, he says this isn’t his first experience with crime. He says his brother was also assaulted and robbed shortly after he moved here. Now, this personal experience is making him think twice about those things he used to consider normal behavior.
“To be honest it makes me reconsider helping people out,” he admitted. “I’m little weary about handing my stuff over to people now. I say that now, but I’ll probably still help people. I just might be more cautious now.”
The two men have not been caught. Cpl. Tommy Stubbs with the Baton Rouge Police Department urges everyone to be more aware of their surroundings, especially at night.
“Pay attention to your surroundings,” Stubbs notes. “Don’t hesitate to go in a group. Don’t travel off the beaten path. If you’re walking at night, don’t go by yourself.”
If an incident does happen, however, Stubbs says it’s important to report the crime, no matter how insignificant it may seem. That information is collected into a case file, which could lead to an arrest, or additional charges if the individual is found.
Too often small crimes go unreported.
“I didn’t even want to report it at first,” Hewett admitted. “There’s murders and things going on and my little assault is not that big of a thing. Someone else convinced me to call in and report it.”
But it’s not only important to report those things that happen to you, but also things you may witness as well. Recently we issued a report about a new texting system in place for Crime Stoppers of Baton Rouge. Click here to read that story.
--Samantha Morgan contributed to this story.