Attempted robbery doesn’t scare locals

BY KIF RICHMANN | JUNE 09, 2009 7:26 AM

Despite an armed robbery attempt in the afternoon this past weekend, Iowa City residents said they are not worried about their safety.

“I walk around, run around, [and I] never feel unsafe,” said Jason Parker, who lives in the building above the parking lot where the reported attack occurred.

Iowa City police received a report of the incident around 2:20 p.m. Sunday. In the underground parking lot of at 601 S. Gilbert St., a 21-year-old man was approached by an individual who demanded money and car keys.

According to police, a struggle ensued, during which the assailant stabbed the victim in the right thigh. Iowa City police Lt. Jim Steffen said Monday the weapon was a Leatherman multipurpose tool.

These compact tools — which often resemble pocketknives — can hold a variety of other features, including needle nose pliers, screwdrivers, and knives. The victim was transported to UI Hospitals and Clinics and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

According to recent statistics from the Iowa City police, reported robbery cases had been rising since 2005, and increased from 49 in 2007 to 58 in 2008.

However, Parker said, he feels the surrounding neighborhood is not a dangerous place. He has never seen any suspicious activity in the underground parking lot, he said, and people are generally not scared to be there.

UI student Erica Huttner, who grew up in Iowa City and lives in a “well-lit” area on Jefferson Street, said her hometown is mostly a safe place, and the local police department does a good job making the area safe.

Still, there are a few areas she would not walk through alone at certain times.

After the suspect fled south on Gilbert Street, police searched the surrounding area with a K-9 unit. Authorities said they normally use dogs in such investigations.

Police called the incident a “rare occurrence.” They have not located the suspect, described as a 30-year-old white male who is clean-shaven and bald-headed.

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