Niles resident hopes Monday morning robbery keeps others alert to surroundings

NILES – A Niles resident is hoping her experience being robbed at gunpoint Monday morning can help others in the surrounding area be on the lookout for one another.

Around 4:10 a.m. Monday, in the Berrien Woods apartment complex, 1900 E. Main St. in Niles, resident Heather Ralston was preparing to leave for work when she says she was held at gunpoint by an unknown person.

As it was not the typical time that she leaves for work, she said she was trying to be vigilant of her surroundings as she left her building.

“Every morning, I think about if somebody is going to mug me. I looked around and didn’t’ see anybody,” Ralston said. “Then he came from behind my car, held up a gun to me and told me to get in the car.”

Ralston said the event happened quickly, and she did not see her attacker.

“I saw the gun, and he told me not to look at him,” she said.

In the moment, she dropped her bag on the ground.
The man went through her bag, and eventually took it with him when he left, the victim said.

After she felt she could leave the vehicle, she went to her neighbor’s and called the police.

Despite the Niles Police Department and Michigan State Police Niles Post law enforcement complex being less than half a mile from the complex, Berrien Woods falls under the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office’s jurisdiction. Ralston said it took about 15 to 20 minutes for law enforcement to arrive.

Without having seen her attacker, Ralston could not give a description of the man. A neighbor reportedly had seen him from the chest up, but the man was wearing a jacket with a hood pulled up over his face.

According to BCSO Chief Deputy Robert Boyce, there was no further information to report in relation to robberies in Berrien Woods or the surrounding area as of Tuesday. Boyce said the incident on Monday seemed to be an isolated incident.

Boyce reported an increase in 911 calls from the Berrien Woods apartment complex. In 2019, the BCSO received 180 calls for service. In 2020, that number increased to 231.

From Jan. 1 to June 7 of this year, there have been 72 calls for service to the location.

Wednesday, Ralston said she hopes her experience encourages others to be aware of their surroundings.

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