Theft rate on campus increases slightly from last year

Oct. 29, 2012

April Wefler
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Students and faculty on campus are reminded to keep a watchful eye and help Public Safety prevent incidents of theft.

In the past year, there’s been a slight increase of theft on campus. Between 2009 and 2010, theft increased from 51 to 72 incidents; in 2012, it rose to 74, according to the latest Annual Security Report that the university is required to submit.

“Seventy-four in a year is not good,” said Jim Spice, director of the Department of Public Safety. He added that the campus only has 10 holidays, and for 355 days out of the year, the buildings are unlocked.

Spice said that although Public Safety is not required to report on the theft rate, the campus chooses to because it’s an issue.

He explained that the biggest problems involve people leaving laptops unattended, students keeping their dorm rooms open and professors leaving offices unlocked.

Spice noted that places where people congregate and leave their items behind – namely the library and the bus – were more likely to have theft.

“People tend to go upstairs to look for books and leave all of their stuff on the tables. It’s not a huge problem right now, but if people continue to be too trustworthy…” said library technician Carol Pacheco.

She said that theft in the library tends to occur toward the evenings when people leave their purses or laptops. She also added that the nighttime hours have more activity from the public patrons, and it’s a temptation if people leave their possessions behind.

Pacheco explained that the library staff is alert and has supervisors walking around during the evening. Still, she added, “I’m surprised I don’t see more of this.”

During the summer semester, Joanna Johnson, a senior majoring in geography, looked up some of the campus crime rate statistics. “I finally got my concealed carry,” she said.

“There was a disturbance in the Financial Aid office – I guess this guy wasn’t getting his money, so an officer showed up and escorted him out,” she said. “I had no idea that you could look this stuff up … why am I finding all this out my last year here?”

Spice said that the campus only has a total of 16 officers, and although officers are on campus 24/7, they can’t be everywhere at the same time. Generally, there are two or three officers per shift.

“We have to rely on the eyes and ears of the community,” he said.

Spice noted that the best precautions for students to take are to be aware of their surroundings, report suspicious activity, keep valuables attended, keep things locked and ask a trusted friend to watch the belongings.

Additionally, the campus offers a security awareness and crime prevention program, as well as the National Bike Registry. Students can register their bike, and if it is stolen, it can be recovered.

Public Safety also leaves postcards in unattended offices, explaining that theft can occur that way and reminding people to keep their door locked and closed after leaving.

“If something doesn’t seem, look [or] feel right, report it. We’d rather have you report something that turns out to be nothing, than not report it,” Spice said.

“It takes a community,” he said. “This is not something that we can tackle alone.”