The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 70.0°F | Partly Cloudy

Student Robbed In Central Square

By Sarah Y. Keightley
Executive Editor

An undergraduate student was the victim of an armed robbery on Pearl Street, two blocks west of Massachusetts Avenue, at 10:45 p.m. on Sunday night.

It was not clear if the assailants had a handgun though they said they did, according to the victim, Josh Hartmann '93. Hartmann was not injured, but the two assailants stole $30 and Hartmann's bank ATM card.

Both of the suspects were described as black, 20-year-old males, 6-feet tall, 170 pounds, according to the Cambridge Police Department report. Both were wearing black, knit camps and dark sweatshirts.

Hartmann said he was walking alone on the right side of Pearl Street, near Franklin Street, and the two assailants were standing in a walkway between two buildings.

Because "I didn't see [the assailants] until I was almost there, there was no real opportunity for me to change directions," Hartmann said. "When I approached them, I knew right away that I was in trouble," he said. It was "almost as if they were waiting for me," he said.

When he approached the two, one asked him to step in the alley because the other had a gun. "The other guy looked as if he had a gun although I did not see a gun," Hartmann said.

They made Hartmann go behind a building where they had him put his hands against a wall as they searched his pockets. This is when they took the money and the ATM card.

They made Hartmann lie on his stomach and asked him for his ATM password. They "threatened that if I did not tell them the correct code, they would shoot me," Hartmann said. Then, the assailants took his backpack - which included all of his class notes and a textbook - and fled toward Massachusetts Avenue on Pearl Street.

In hindsight, Hartmann said he doubts that his assailants had a gun since they did not show it to him.

Hartmann said he reported the incident to the Cambridge and the Campus Police departments. "All of the police departments and my professors have been extraordinarily helpful," he said

Because the incident occurred off campus, the role of the Campus Police was "secondary," said Chief of Campus Police Anne P. Glavin.

Because of the robbery, Hartmann has decided to use a different street to access his apartment. Pearl Street is not as well-lit as other nearby streets, he said.

"The place where I live is owned by MIT, and only MIT affiliates are allowed to live here," Hartmann said. Most of these people are MIT graduate students, he said. "Yet Safe Ride, which is supposed to ensure the safety of the MIT community, does not serve this building," he said.

However, MIT has students that live all over the city, outside the city, and in neighboring cities, Glavin said. "The message remains the same: Be careful traversing the city streets at night," she said.