Auraria Campus Police are on the lookout for a man who was last seen wearing a floppy hat and a light pastel-orange “monk-like robe,” according to Chief Michael Phibbs.
“If we find the person, I anticipate charging him with robbery,” he told Denverite on Friday.
The search began when an undergraduate student reported that he was grabbed and robbed by an ochre outlaw at about 4 p.m. on Oct. 10 near the King Center. The student said that the robed man stood on campus holding a sign that said “Peace,” according to Phibbs.
“He engaged with the student, offered him some beads and requested a donation,” the chief said. Apparently, the suspect didn’t like the response.
“The monk grabbed him by the back of the neck, drew him closer and took the $20 the kid had from him.”
The number of people wearing monk-style robes on campus has not made the investigation any easier. It’s possible that the man was a scammer using Buddhist imagery to solicit money, a hustle that has been reported elsewhere.
“I personally have seen people dressed like that on campus before — but apparently there are multiple people who dress similarly,” he said. “I don’t know how many times I saw the same person.”
Police talked to another person who was dressed similarly. It was not the suspect.
Phibbs doesn’t think the suspect had an affiliation on campus, but it’s possible that multiple people are abusing the robe. Police say they have received multiple reports of harassment from people matching the same description.
“Whether or not they’re legitimately monks associated with a particular monastery or something, I have no idea,” he said.
If anyone on campus feels threatened or unsure about a solicitor, “I want them to call us,” Phibbs said. The Auraria campus’ numerous emergency blue-light stations ring through to police dispatch.
The suspect is described as an Asian man in his 40s standing about 5-foot-8 with short black hair “and a wrinkled face with a black mole,” according to the department.
People also can call 303-556-5000 or text emergency dispatch at 720-593-8477.
This post was updated to include the time of the alleged robbery.