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Cambridge needs more than a name change to curb crime in the apartment complex

By Favian Quezada
Staff Writer

Assault, theft, shootings and trespassing usually don’t appear, but these were last year’s key words when describing the environment many college students had to live in last year at The Cambridge at Tyler.

Located across from the UT Tyler campus on Old Omen Road, The Cambridge, now called Village at the U, was bought in December last year by Emet Capital Management. The complex is now under the management of Asset Campus Housing.

Known as a hotspot for criminal activity in the area, police were called to the complex a total of 317 times in 2012. The majority of those calls were made for suspicious persons, 83 of those calls occurred in October. So far this year, 103 calls have been made since January.

Last fall, Tyler police investigated numerous assault and burglary cases. They also delt with a few shootings at the complex too. According to KNUE.com, on Sept. 25 of last year, two people were shot while sleeping in their car one in the leg the other the head, shoulder, and wrist. Both victims survived the incident.

Cambridge crime rates
Cambridge crime ratesVillage at the U crime rates

Sgt. William Sinclair with the Tyler Police Department was a courtesy officer for Cambridge in 2012. He said crime was a big problem then and only getting worse.

“A major source that contributed to some of the mentioned crimes were gang members from other cities such as Dallas or Houston,” he said. “These gang members fought and competed with each other as well as our local gangs.”
Along with upgrades to the clubhouse and apartments, security at the complex has been strengthened with bedroom security alarms, improved safety gates, spikes at the front gate exit and high-resolution cameras. But still, the majority of calls made this year have been burglary and trespassing related.

New measures on accepting residents have also been put into place. Residents are put through a background check and students wishing to live on the complex must maintain a minimum of a 2.5 GPA.

“The problem is a lot of the residents do not show a criminal history due to just becoming legal adults,” Sgt. Sinclair added. “And their juvenile records are not legally revealed through a background check.”

Residents are confident with the new owners and management that they are taking the proper steps to secure themselves and their belongings on order for the crime in the area to drop.

“The environment itself is good, you just have to be careful of who you surround yourself with,” said Israel Stegall, maintnance crew and resident of Village at the U. She also feels that the crime rate at the complex has dropped due to new gates and spike strips at the the front gate.

But TJC student and frequent visitor of the complex, Demi Smith, says that the complex is fairly easy to access for non-residents.

“Anybody can get in there since the (side) gate is broken. Even when it’s not, all you have to do is sit at the (main) gate until somebody presses the button for it to open,” she said. “And anybody will do that for you.”

Both said that though the gate is an issue, they’ve never felt threatened or in danger while their at the complex.

Sgt. Sinclair says he’s noticed a reduction in calls for service from police this semester and believes it’s due to extra measures set in place.

“I don’t believe they have solved the problems completely, but they are working toward improving the safety for residents,” Sgt. Sinclair said.



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