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University Police report shows burglary, robbery decline

University Police Department releases annual crime report; document catalogues decreased reported 2011 criminal activity

Fewer burglaries and robberies occurred last year at the University than had taken place in 2010, according to a safety report the University Police released this week that compiled information about criminal activity on Grounds in 2011.

The department releases these reports every fall semester in compliance with the Clery Act, a federal statute requiring universities that receive federal financial aid to disclose information about crimes on their campuses to students.

The report, which is publicly available on the University Police Department’s website, includes statistics of crimes such as burglary and sexual assault, and sorts these numbers by location based on whether they occur on Grounds or off Grounds. The statistics show a decrease in burglaries on Grounds, from 68 occurrences in 2010 to 53 in 2011, but reveal an increase in motor vehicle theft, from five to 16.

The number of reported on-Grounds robberies, which differ from burglaries in that robbery involves the use or threat of force to steal from the victim, decreased from five in 2010 to just one in 2011, but the number of forcible sex offenses remained at five, the number also reported in 2010 and 2009. There were no aggravated assaults reported to University Police on University property in 2011, according to the report.

The document, which also lists incidents on Grounds reported to entities other than the University Police, including other law enforcement agencies and University officials, showed that forcible sex offenses reported in total fell from 17 in 2010 to 14 in 2011.

“There is a huge fluctuation from year to year in terms of numbers and with any kind of increase we’re on the lookout and constantly trying to reevaluate safety and security,” University Police Lieut. Melissa Fielding said. But prevention is hard to measure, she added, making it difficult to attribute decreases in crime to any specific preventive measure, such as an increased use of surveillance cameras.

Second-year College student Ally Wolf said she didn’t have any problems with leaving her things unattended in libraries or elsewhere on Grounds. She said she wasn’t familiar with the University’s crime preventive material, but she had previously experienced a car break-in at her house off Grounds.

“Someone broke into my car a few weeks into school,” Wolf said. “I guess I had left it unlocked. Nothing was stolen, so I didn’t report it.”

Fielding stressed the importance of reviewing crime reports such as the one recently released. “It’s always good to know what happens in reference to safety and security.” She also said students don’t necessarily have to wait for the annual reports to be published, because monthly reports are also released online. These monthly versions are available online going back as far as 2005.