Campus crimes on rise

By Sky Opila

University Police found a 19 percent increase in serious crimes on University property from 2004 to 2005. Specifically, burglary on campus has seen a 55 percent increase since 2004.

According to a 2005 year-end activity summary, $435,053 in stolen property was reported and $196,929 of that was University property. Most property is stolen from the libraries, the Illini Union, the Illini Union Bookstore, the Intramural Physical Education Building and Campus Recreation Center East, said University Police Sgt. Joan Fiesta.

According to the summary, serious crimes, called group A crimes, generally lead to an arrest, and include arson, burglary and weapon law violations. The summary also lists group B crimes that are less serious and may only involve writing a ticket, such as curfew violations or disorderly conduct.

Burglary is one of the most difficult crimes to prevent without full community support, said Kris Fitzpatrick, interim police chief for the University Police.

“We are trying to grow a strong partnership with the community,” Fitzpatrick said. “Every week I read plenty of reports about someone stealing items from a dorm room or campus recreation building.”

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Fiesta said crime prevention is mainly the responsibility of the community.

“While we hold seminars and presentations, the public is truly responsible for making sure that these prevention techniques go into action,” Fiesta said.

The University Police Department has been taking measures to decrease crime incidence rates. Between safety presentations, dorm floor presentations, crime prevention officers and freshman orientation presentations, the department is putting its best foot forward to slow the number of burglaries, Fitzpatrick said.

“I don’t think many people are aware of how much crime actually happens on campus; that is why we hold so many presentations,” Fiesta said.

One problem on campus is that the ratio of officers to residents and students is quite large, Fitzpatrick said.

“With just 55 officers, 1,000 faculty members and 40,000 students, we are spread pretty thin,” Fitzpatrick said. “However, we are always going out of our way to ensure that people hear the message.”

The increase in crime statistics may not necessarily be due to more crimes being committed, Fiesta said.

“It may not only be a situation of more crime, but one where more crimes are being reported because people know how to react to the situation,” Fiesta said. “This also lends itself to growing trends where people may see vulnerability.”

Some students, such as Gene Giannotta, junior in LAS, feel that increased crime rates may be detrimental to student performance.

“I feel as if my safety is compromised,” he said. “This can have an adverse effect on academic output by students.”

Anyone interested in setting up a presentation by the University Police can find more information at their website, http://www.dps.uiuc.edu.