A Boston University student was accosted by an unarmed attacker at Commonwealth Avenue and Amory Street on Sunday evening, officials from the Boston University Police Department said.
The woman, a 22-year-old undergraduate, was walking down the street at 10 p.m. when the suspect approached her from behind and grabbed her aggressively, said BUPD Lieutenant Detective Peter DiDomenica.
“She was hugged and then punched,” DiDomenica said. “She was able to fend off the attacker and he fled. We believe the intent of that attack was to rob the victim. It appears that he got into a grey or tan SUV, possibly a Honda Pilot, to flee.”
Brookline Police Department was contacted immediately after the event, said Captain John O’Leary of the Brookline PD.
“Police patrolled the area immediately after [Brookline PD was] contacted,” O’Leary said. “They will be around and checking video surveillance in the area. We’re in touch with the other police departments in the area as well.”
The suspect has not yet been identified, DiDomenica said. Police officials will be investigating the area and analyzing video surveillance in an effort to locate the criminal.
“Similar crimes may be in the area of jurisdiction, so Boston and Cambridge will be patrolled,” DiDomenica said. “There’s not much we can do with searching the area at this point because it happened last evening. It’s being followed up with an investigative process to seek out the [suspect’s] identity.”
DiDomenecia and O’Leary said officers from both Brookline PD and BUPD will be increasing their presence in the area of the crime.
The act of ‘hugging’ victims in order to mug them has become increasingly common as more criminals target people with a visible cellphone and other valuable portable electronics, O’Leary said.
“Recently, hugging people to rob them has been common because people specifically target cellphones,” he said. “The person could have been on her cellphone and didn’t hear anyone approach.”
Although thefts on the BU campus occur frequently, instances of attack are much less common, rendering the crime more serious than the usual campus robberies, DiDomenica said.
“Robberies like this are actually pretty infrequent,” DiDomenica said. “In the past academic year, there were a series of community robberies a short distance from that area.”
In August, a male Boston University graduate student was exiting a taxi on Beacon Street in the early morning when an unknown male attacker assaulted him, making off with his money and cellphone.
During the 2012-13 academic year, BU students were victims of eight robberies and attempted robberies in the area of West Campus and northern Brookline.
While robberies are not a common occurrence on BU’s Charles River Campus and surrounding areas, students should main alert and take precautions to protect themselves, DiDomenica said.
“It is a relatively infrequent event, but there’s a lot of seriousness to it,” he said. “This was a serious crime and people have to be careful.”