Burglaries continue to drop

by Matthew Kwiecinski

Media Credit: Allison Elfring

Burglaries on campus fell by 76 percent compared to last academic year, while the number of on-campus crimes remained consistent with past years, according to data from the University Police Department’s crime log.

Liquor law violations increased by about two dozen this year, reaching a total of 414 cases, with incidents of theft climbing from 330 to 343 from August 26, 2011 to April 24, 2012. Drug law violations decreased from 106 to 89 during this time.

University administrators attribute the decline in burglaries – a total of 19 cases this year compared to 75 last year – to new rules set by the Department of Education and Federal Bureau of Investigation on classifying burglaries for higher education institutions under the Clery Act.

An incident is labeled a burglary instead of a theft when there is evidence of a person unlawfully or forcefully entering an area to steal an item.

Police Chief Kevin Hay said officers have been ramping up their visibility on campus in an effort to reduce crime this year, ensuring that more officers in uniform are present on the street and in campus buildings.

In October, UPD tightened security on entry into residence halls, with a officer in every building during the night, in response to a reported sexual assault in City Hall, where a man not affiliated with the University followed a female resident as she entered the hall. Formerly, UPD officers would only be stationed in freshman residence halls.

Hay said UPD has been working closely with house proctors to foster a relationship where proctors are the “eyes and ears” for the department. He has also encouraged students to lock their doors and to be aware of their surroundings.

“We continue to try and improve service in residence halls,” Hay said. “We do plan to continue our front door coverage next year.”

Liquor law violations in the first three weeks of April totaled 35, compared to 57 reported by this point last year, while drug law violations dropped from 15 violations to six.

Tara Pereira, assistant dean of students in charge of the University's judicial offices, attributed the change to normal fluctuations in alcohol and drug-related violations from year to year.

She added that the slight upward trend in yearly substance violations is due to growing freshman class sizes.

Pereira previously called April one of the “craziest disciplinary months” as the weather warms up, and the semester comes to a close.

Hay said UPD has not implemented any initiatives focused specifically on liquor law violations, but noted that the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration has been finding fake IDs during their enforcement actions near campus – an attribution to the violations.

“If there is any trend at all, it is in the use of fake IDs, meaning more underage students have obtained illegal driver's licenses,” Hay said.

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