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Balto. Co. police step up Towson patrols in wake of street robberies

In the wake of a series of street robberies in Towson, Baltimore County Police have adjusted patrols and shifted resources toward downtown and the area around Towson University for the evening hours, a county police spokeswoman said Friday.

Police spokeswoman Elise Armacoat said in an email Friday that Capt. Richard Howard, commander of the Towson precinct, has devoted more resources to the area this week.

A Baltimore County crime trends report posted online Thursday said four street robberies were reported in the central area of Towson between Friday, Nov. 1 and Wednesday, Nov. 6. A fifth was reported Thursday morning, police said.

In that last incident, police said a 23-year-old woman was walking to a bus stop on Fairmount Avenue at Towson Gate Drive near the Towson Town Center mall around 6 a.m. when a vehicle pulled over near the entrance to the mall. Two men exited the vehicle, ran toward the woman and demanded that she turn over her belongings, police said.

The woman ran from the men and dropped her purse as she fled, and only the umbrella was recovered, police said.

Police are investigating whether Thursday's incident is connected to at least a pair of the other robberies.

One of those occurred near E. Burke and Centre avenues around 10:50 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 3 when a trio of men robbed and stabbed a 24-year-old male Towson University student. The victim was hospitalized with serious injuries, police said. The man's cell phone was taken in the assault, police said.

At 9:50 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 4, a 20-year-old male Goucher College student was attacked by two men while walking home from campus talking on his cellphone and pushing his bicycle in the 200 block of E. Burke Avenue, police said.

According to police, the two men threatened to stab the student if he didn't cooperate, though he did not see a knife. The men stole money from the student's wallet, and a third man drove the pair away in a getaway car.

Police have said they believe the two attacks are related.

Armacost stressed that "hundreds of additional man hours" have been invested in the Towson area by the department's Business Patrol Initiative and Community Action Team deployments, plus overtime assignments in the wake of the recent crimes.

Towson community leaders are also looking for other short-term fixes to improve public safety in the area.

Councilman David Marks announced Thursday that a task force will examine short-term security improvements in the Towson community.

The committee to examine safety improvements in the area will be comprised of leaders from community organizations and Towson University, Marks said.

Sgt. Stephen Fink of the Towson precinct will serve as chair and lead the committee that also includes Towson University Chief of Police Bernie Gerst, Greater Towson Council of Community Associations President Paul Hartman, Towson Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancy Hafford, and BGE representatives.

"Downtown Towson is still a secure place to work, live, and do business, but crime anywhere is unacceptable and we need to do whatever we can to guarantee public safety," Councilman Marks said in a statement.

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