Leverett Path Purse Snatcher Arrested

Hundreds of students use the pathway which lies next to the Leverett House Towers between Grant and Cowperthwaite Streets each day, never feeling a sense of concern for their safety.

But whether running to and from class or grabbing a late-night bite from Tommy's Pizza, Mather and Dunster House residents may need to watch out for juvenile purse-snatchers.

Last Wednesday, a 37-year-old female Cantabrigian was robbed of her black purse by three males on bicycles at 7:21 p.m., according to the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) blotter.

HUPD spokesperson Peggy A. McNamara said she could not reveal the reason the woman was walking on the path. McNamara said she did not believe the woman was a Harvard affiliate.

A 13-year-old male was apprehended at 7:34 p.m. on the corner of Blackstone and Western Streets by longtime HUPD patrolofficer Brian Lakin, positively identified by the woman and arrested for the unarmed robbery.


Blackstone Street and Western Avenue are located about two blocks south of Peabody Terrace off of Memorial Drive.

McNamara said the three youths came up behind the woman on the pathway last Wednesday night and asked her for the time.

When she refused to tell them, "one of the suspects grabbed the purse off her shoulder and then they all fled," she said.

The Cambridge woman contacted HUPD and then began pursuing the suspects with Lakin in his patrol vehicle.

Patrol officers Robert Sweetland, David Lee and Louis Savreau and Sergeant James McCarthy were also dispatched to the area, McNamara said.

"When there's a larceny, we try to get as many of us as we can [there], especially when it's just occurred and we have a good description," she said.

McNamara said that patrol officer Lakin finally caught up with one of the suspects about five blocks away from the crime scene on Blackstone Street and Western Avenue, and arrested him.

In the process of apprehending the suspect, Lakin suffered a broken hand and torn ligaments in his Knee and had to be transported to Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge for treatment.

"He went to stop the individual on the bike, and they ended up on the ground," McNamara said.

McNamara said that although HUPD policy was different in previous years, it is no longer unusual for juveniles to be arrested for incidents like these.

"In the past, we reported [juvenile crimes] to the parents and let the parents deal with it," she said. "If we feel the parents could properly handle the situation we could avoid a criminal record for the juvenile, but every situation and circumstance is different."

McNamara said that despite the robbery, she would not call the pathway dangerous route.

In fact, McNamara pointed out that the pathway was highlighted on the back of Harvard University telephone directories part of the route to take from Harvard Yard to Dunster and Mather Houses.

However, McNamara suggested that he might be safer to walk all the way down DeWolfe Street and then turn left to Cowperthwaite Street to get to the their houses instead.

"Since this incident has occurred, she would probably try to be aware of who and what's around you when you're walking through the area," she said. "There is no way to say the other two [suspects] are going to come around again, but its always a good idea to be aware of who and what is around you.