UAPD Increase Patrol After Suspicious Activity, Encourage Students to Report

UA Police Department Patrol Officer Paul Edwards drives around campus Nov. 13. UAPD has upped its patrols after receiving calls of suspicious activity around the university.

 

The UA Police Department has investigated multiple calls about suspicious behavior, but they have not found any evidence the alleged kidnappings and stalkings happened, according to a UAPD email.

Multiple people, students and parents, called police and university officials about suspicious behavior that was being circulated around social media platforms, UAPD Capt. Gary Crain said. The department sent out emails, a tweet and a text message to encourage students to report the questionable behavior they were posting about, but no one had reported any crimes to UAPD.

“We’ve put on additional patrol because we didn’t have anyone come to us to report a crime, so we went out proactively looking to see if we could see anything that was out of the ordinary, or unusual or suspicious, and we did not come across anything,” Crain said.

A campus security email Nov. 8 said that UAPD and the Fayetteville Police Department investigated numerous calls and allegations, but none were found to be crimes, according to the UAPD email.

The Fayetteville Police Department also did not receive any reports, FPD Sgt. Anthony Murphy said. Nothing can be done until a crime is reported to the department. Once a crime is reported, officers will investigate it to the fullest extent.

“As far as the rumors and the scare that’s been going on last week, none of that was reported to the police department,” Murphy said

One of the claims spread through social media was about a girl who was almost abducted as she was leaving work at the Northwest Arkansas Mall in Fayetteville. Text messages about the incident said that a man with a mask and gun pulled up in white van and told her to get in the car, according to a Facebook post. The girl’s brother was there to pick her up, so he set off the car alarm and scared the man away.

FPD read the Facebook post about the incident, and determined that it was a hoax and was never reported to FPD, Murphy said. Other claims of attempted abduction or sex trafficking were also not reported.

One of the first allegations to start circulating was through a message in the Alpha Omicron Pi GroupMe. Senior Claire Kutchka, the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority president, sent a message that said a member was assaulted on Whitman Street around 1 p.m. Nov. 1. The man who reportedly attacked her wore all black and tried to grab her. Other Alpha Omicron Pi members claimed they saw a man lurking between sorority houses.

While the rumors of the attempted assault were circulating, Alpha Omicron Pi member Caitlin Lane felt nervous after her chapter president told the sorority about a member being attacked, she said.

When Lane received the campus security email Nov. 1, she read it entirely because she thought it was abnormal, she said. Later that night, her chapter president sent a message about a sorority member being attacked.

“My first initial response was like, ‘Oh my goodness, like it was one of us, is she okay?’” Lane said. “I think (the assault) was just kind of an eye-opener for everyone.”

No one reported this incident to the police, Crain said. UAPD officials want to remind students to report any suspicious behavior. UAPD officers increased their presence and patrols on campus in response to the alleged activity, according to the email sent Nov. 3.

 

Tegan Shockley is a staff reporter for the Arkansas Traveler, where she has been a staff reporter since 2017.

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