Police searching for suspect in ill-intentioned Facebook meet-up

URBANA, Ill. – University of Illinois Police are continuing to search for the suspect in an armed robbery that happened at about 4:38 p.m. Thursday in the 2100 block of South Orchard Street, Urbana.

An Orchard Downs resident called police after he was robbed at gunpoint after meeting with someone whom he had met on Facebook Marketplace. The two arranged for the victim to purchase electronics from the offender. When they met to make the transaction, the victim was robbed of the cash he had brought to pay for the items.

The robbery was announced to all campus community members through the Illini-Alert emergency notification system.

University of Illinois Police responded and searched the area but could not find the offender.

The offender was described as a Black man of about 20-25 years old, 5’10”, with a thin build and short facial hair, wearing a black sweatshirt and jeans with cutout knees. He was last seen driving away from Orchard Downs in a silver Kia sedan with a covered license plate.

Information about the race or ethnicity of alleged offenders is provided only to aid detailed descriptions that include physical stature, clothing or unusual characteristics. Racial descriptions do not, by themselves, offer a meaningful picture of an individual’s appearance.

Police are reminding campus community members to be vigilant and call police if they see anything that seems suspicious. Those traveling on campus tonight are encouraged to use SafeWalks, a free walking escort service provided by trained Student Patrol officers. Anyone traveling in the campus area can request a SafeWalks escort by calling 217-333-1216.

Additionally, UIPD wants students and others to be safe if they are buying or selling items through online marketplaces. UIPD makes its building at 1110 W. Springfield Ave., Urbana, available for safe transactions. More information about that and other safety tips are available for review in a post from last year on the University of Illinois Police Department website.

Campus community members should also observe these safety tips:

  • Stay together.Do not walk alone at night. Travel in groups and in well-lit areas. Call 217-333-1216 for a SafeWalks escort if you need one.
  • Be alert. Maintaining awareness of your surroundings is critical, especially when traveling at night. Wearing headphones or looking at your phone diminishes your ability to respond to your surroundings. Walk with purpose, and stay attentive.
  • Trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Call police if something looks odd — we’re happy to assist, and even the smallest bit of information could prevent another crime.
  • Watch out for each other. Call 911 immediately if you or someone else is in danger. The University encourages students to take appropriate action to protect others’ safety by reducing students’ fear of legal or disciplinary consequences to the victim or themselves. For more information, please review the Medical Amnesty and Good Samaritan procedures.
  • If you choose to consume alcohol, please be responsible. Remember your ability to respond is diminished by overconsumption of alcohol.

The University of Illinois Police Department, in cooperation with the Champaign Police Department and the Urbana Police Department, has a full complement of officers patrolling the campus area. Between these agencies, our campus is one of the most highly-patrolled areas in the region. More than 2,000 security cameras are posted around campus to deter crime and identify offenders.