Courtesy of UCPD
Courtesy of UCPD

On June 8, a female UCR student was abducted from the University Village (UV) Towers parking garage located on 3500 Iowa Avenue. The psychology student was returning from shopping when the suspect struck her, covered her eyes, tied her hands and reportedly forced her into a vehicle for 30 minutes. She talked to the abductor until he returned her to the same parking garage and let her go.

The suspect’s car is described as a 2009 or newer grey Nissan Sentra. The suspect is allegedly a white male in his late twenties to early thirties with medium length, dark blond hair. The Riverside Police Department (RPD) has released a sketch and is asking anybody with more information to come forward.

This is the third attempted abduction this school year. The first attempts happened within hours of each other on April 12 near the Lothian Residence halls. In an email interview, the UCR Director of Media Relations Kris Lovekin said that, “Police have no way of knowing if this kidnapping is related to an attempted kidnapping earlier in the year.”

Since the latest attempt happened off campus, the UC Police Department (UCPD) must leave the investigation to the RPD, which oversees criminal activity in the city of Riverside. Despite this, Lovekin assures the community that, “(The UCPD is) providing … extra security patrolling, and even cameras at certain locations on campus, to make sure that everyone knows — including criminals — that they are likely to be caught if they target UCR.”

UCPD Police Chief Mike Lane urges students to stay vigilant and to review important tips for personal safety and the protection of property. “There have also been several cameras installed at the University Avenue entrance of UCR, Canyon Crest, Linden, Blaine and Rustin streets,” Lane said in an email interview. He goes on to note that more blue call boxes have been placed near UCR Family Housing and on-campus apartments as safety precautions. There is also the Campus Safety Escort Service available during the school year.

“It’s really scary,” says Sneha Sharma, a student at the UCR Graduate School of Education and future resident of the UV Towers. Undaunted by the recent abductions, she adds, “But I have pepper spray and I am not afraid to use it.”

Anybody with additional information about the kidnapping may contact Detective Rick Wheeler at 951-353-7134 or Detective Rick Cobb at 951-353-7135. UCPD detectives promise to remain in constant communication with RPD detectives regarding this investigation and to share updates with the UCR community.