Web site maps crimes on campus

By Colleen Vest

Deciding what route to walk home at night is easier with a new Web site that shows when and where crimes happen in Campustown.

The University is now included on UCrime.com, a Web site that maps criminal activity on college campuses.

The Web site has a University map with icons where criminal activity took place. Each icon provides basic information about what type of crime happened and the date and time it occurred.

“University students aren’t getting a clear picture of crimes on campus,” said Greg Kastner, vice president of business development for UCrime.com.

Although the Web site claims to be updated daily, there is a gap in mapped crimes for the University from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15.

“For the last two weeks, we have been trying to catch up on criminal activity, so that’s why it isn’t completely up to date,” Kastner said.

UCrime tracks criminal information for about 200 universities by pulling information from police reports. It also allows students to post unreported criminal behavior.

“As far as I know, we are the only Web site that maps university crimes, which helps students, parents and anyone else on campus,” Kastner said.

Jeff Christensen, interim director for the University Police Department, questioned the validity of the Web site’s sources.

“Some of their information is from secondhand sources like newspapers,” Christensen said. “Even though crimes happened that aren’t reported, some of the student input may be inaccurate.”

The Web site leaves up past crimes to serve as a history. UCrime is a way of spreading necessary information about crimes a month old or a day old, Kastner said. Students can see what is happening and make better decisions that affect safety, he added.

“Students can check the campus police daily blotter Web site to see alerts and campus crimes,” Christensen said. “But anything that provides information about crime trends and prevention is useful for students.”

Kelsey Medcalf, freshman in LAS, said it might help prevent future crimes.

“If people knew where attacks happen and where a lot of crimes are, they would steer clear at night and always stay with a group around that area,” she said.

Some students thought the Web site would be especially beneficial to freshmen.

“Students will know where crimes happen and stay away at night,” said Rachel Higgins, freshman in ACES. “Some freshmen are paranoid after ACE IT and other things, so UCrime might reassure people.”