Theft up on Foggy Bottom Campus

The number of reported thefts on the Foggy Bottom Campus increased nearly 23 percent from 2009 to 2010, according to newly released University statistics.

Thefts saw a hike from 357 reported incidents in 2009 to 439 cases in 2010, according to University Police Department data. But the number of burglaries shrunk by 30 percent, from 109 cases in 2009 to 75 the following year.

The most commonly stolen items are laptops, cell phones and Ipods, University Police Chief Kevin Hay said. He added that UPD makes an average of 50 to 60 criminal arrests yearly for incidents including theft, burglary and unlawful entry.

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.

Hay said, because the FBI changed its rules on classifying burglaries for higher education institutions in 2010, requiring more strict evidence of an illegal or forced entry, an increased number of incidents are now labeled as thefts.

“Accordingly, as burglaries drop, you will see a corresponding rise in thefts,” Hay said, because the guidelines for considering an incident a burglary are now more rigid.

Theft numbers have been fluctuating in recent years. Hay said looking at data since 2005 shows thefts are down.

The Foggy Bottom Campus saw 546 thefts in 2005, about 100 more than last year. In 2006, that number dropped to 423 thefts.

Thefts decreased further to 291 in 2007, before spiking to 411 incidents in 2008.

Case histories show individuals unaffiliated with GW commit most of the burglaries, Hay said, whereas thefts “can be harder to predict, as thefts can occur within the GW community.”

He said a layered security system has been keeping burglars at bay.

“We have increased our uniform presence on campus, placing more of our personnel in uniform as a crime deterrent,” Hay said. “Our uniformed patrols and other counter-measures help keep them out of residence halls and other structures.”

Ivory Tower, Thurston Hall and Mitchell Hall have continuously been top sites of burglary concern, he added.

Hay said UPD tries to arrest as many thieves as possible to deter others from stealing on campus, and officers work diligently to use security camera images to identify suspects.

He said making students more aware of crime is also vital.

“Educational efforts remain important, we send out anti-theft Infomails, talk about this at CI and train our officers to share tips in residence halls,” Hay said. “When we can find a pattern of cases, we set up plain-clothes surveillance to catch the criminals in the act.”

Thefts on the Mount Vernon Campus have steadily declined since 2007, from 16 incidents that year to just 10 last year.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.