COLUMBUS, Ohio — Around 3 a.m. July 11, a man in the Old North Columbus Neighborhood became one of 12 armed robbery victims last weekend near Ohio State’s campus.
Bill Spiropolus said he was sitting in the driveway of his home that backs up to an alley when he spotted a car with the rear passenger side door open, but didn’t think much of it.
When he got out of the car a little bit later, he said two men came from behind a bush and pointed their guns at him. Spiropolus gave the men his phone, keys and wallet before the thieves ran away.
Columbus police said this was one of nine robberies that happened between 12:30 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. last weekend. In each robbery, police said the victims were approached by two men wearing dark face masks. Then the suspects pulled out a gun, demanded the victims hand over their belongings and left.
Police added the robberies are connected to thieves stealing cars, committing robberies and then ditching the cars.
Seven of the nine robberies happened at the following locations:
- 11th Avenue and North Pearl Street
- East 4th near Hamlet Avenue
- Kent Street
- Alley west of North High Street and East 5th Avenue
- Price Avenue
- East Patterson Avenue
- East Lane Avenue and Indiana Avenue
There was no location available for the other two robberies.
Across the city, police say robberies are up 20% since last year. However, for nine robberies to happen in a three-hour window is unprecedented, according to police.
The Old North Columbus Neighborhood is in the corridor of many of the robberies.
The head of the Old North Columbus Block Watch said while crime is not unusual here, mainly thefts of catalytic converters, armed robberies are not the norm.
“It's fairly rare in the inside of the neighborhood,” Thom Wildman said.
Spiropolus said he’s lived in the neighborhood for most of his life and this was the first time he was ever the victim of a crime.
Abby Oates, who was another one of the victims, said she and her friends were at a bachelorette party.
“I told him ‘no.’ I told him ‘no like get off me, get off me’ and so he was upset and he fired off his gun twice,” Oates said.
Oates said the men were able to take several of her friends’ belongings.
“When they finally decided to run off, the guy hit me upside the head and I assume it was just because he was angry,” she said.
Police said they cannot discuss any leads on any suspects at this time.
Police are asking anyone who was a victim of the robbery, an attempted robbery or anyone with information to call 614-645-4545.
Police said even attempted robberies are important to report because there may be surveillance video that can help police catch more suspects.