PHILADELPHIA – Early the morning of Thursday, December 5th, John Hammersmith, a University of Pennsylvania student, was unknowingly robbed at knife-point on the corner of 40th and Spruce and was alerted to his robbery moments afterwards via the UPennAlert text message system.
“I was just walking home after a night of studying, minding my own business when I received the text, so I immediately checked my pockets and noticed that my wallet was gone,” said Hammersmith in an interview. “If I hadn’t gotten the text, I wouldn’t have even known about the knife. Thank goodness UPennAlert warned me,” he continued.
After receiving the text, Hammersmith quickly approached the nearest Allied Barton security guard, Karl Sloan, who took matters into his own hands.
“I immediately flashed the Bart-Signal, a giant coat riding a bicycle, into the sky, and then I hopped on my bike to pursue the assailant, who I saw running west on Spruce,” recounted Sloan. “Upon reaching 44th street, I almost caught him, but his tight jeans, beanie, and nonconventional music taste made him all but invisible among the locals waiting in line at Honest Tom’s.”
The problem of oblivious theft or “sneaky stealing,” as University Department of Public Safety officials have named it, will likely become more of an issue now that criminals realize that they can get away with it. In anticipation of this new type of crime, DPS has created a new initiative, the University System for Effective Lessening and Eradicating of Sneaky Stealing, or USELESS, to help predict and prevent crimes before they occur.
“Our USELESS initiative will text students alerting them of pending crimes,” said DPS spokesperson Marcia Kruger. “It will leverage research being done in the Statistics department and the Discovery Channel’s “Psychic Witness,” a show about supernatural occurrences. We hope to combine both fields in helping to predict the future.”
Since USELESS technology has not yet been developed, DPS has released 3-step process to avoid sneaky stealing, which is listed below and can also be found on the website of the DPS:
1) Look at crime maps early and often, and avoid walking in areas with red dots.
2) If you must walk through a red dot area, hold all valuables in your hands out in front of you where you can see them, avoiding the issue of sneaky stealers taking them from your pockets.
3) Frequent a psychic professional to help predict crimes.
“We live in a dangerous area, and the fact that criminals are becoming more crafty is extremely concerning,” said Hammersmith. “But I am confident that we will be able to count on the new USELESS initiative to protect us.”