Campus burglaries drop in half

The Foggy Bottom Campus saw about half as many burglaries in 2011 than it did the year before, according to data released Monday.

A total of 40 burglaries were reported for 2011 – significantly fewer than the 75 incidents in 2010 – marking a fourth-straight year of decreases, Department of Education statistics show.

University Police Chief Kevin Hay attributed the decrease in part to heightened security measures in residence halls.

Last fall, the University Police Department began stationing security officers in residence halls at night to tighten access to buildings and monitor unaccompanied visitors.

“We have focused more of our assets on [the] protection of residence halls,” Hay said.

Security tightened again last month, as officers began checking photo identification of students tapping their GWorlds to enter residence halls like Ivory Tower and City Hall at night. Hay said then that the policy would prevent individuals unaffiliated with the University from entering buildings with stolen or borrowed cards.

Hay added that the continued decline in reported burglaries reflects a federal policy implemented in 2010 that narrowed the definition of burglary, which involves a theft with proof of forced or illegal entry – like breaking and entering.

The Foggy Bottom Campus saw 125 reported burglaries in 2008, a figure that has since dropped by two-thirds, according to Department of Education data.

City-wide, burglaries are down 10 percent, Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said.

Burglaries on the Mount Vernon Campus remained relatively consistent, with five reported cases in 2009 and 2011 and three cases in 2010, according to the data.

Neighboring colleges also saw a drop in burglaries. Reports at Georgetown and Howard universities decreased slightly from 38 to 35 cases and from 28 to 17 cases, respectively, from 2010 to 2011.

But American University saw about a dozen more incidents of burglary, with cases increasing from 33 to 46.

Universities that receive federal funding are required to publish annual crime statistics under the Clery Act, signed into law in 1990.

But as burglaries dropped, theft rates continued to rise at GW over the last three years – a trend Hay also attributed to the FBI reclassification.

“Theft numbers have been creeping up in all of Northwest DC, not just at Foggy Bottom,” Hay said in an email.

The Foggy Bottom neighborhood saw a reported 460 thefts in 2011, up 4 percent from the previous year. In 2010, the number of cases jumped by about 18 percent compared to the year before.

Alison Kiss, executive director of the Clery Center for Security on Campus, said the top items stolen on college campuses are electronic devices left unattended, which are then typically sold for cash.

She added that theft numbers are generally not tied to a school’s geographic location or whether it is in a heavily populated area or a small town.

“Most crime is student-on-student, so typically we do not see changes in urban versus rural campuses,” Kiss said.

Matthew Kwiecinski contributed to this report

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