String of apartment burglaries reported on campus

String of apartment burglaries reported on campus

An unusually high number of apartment burglaries have been reported on campus since August, according to the Champaign Police Department.

“We always see an increase, but not usually like this,” said Lt. Jim Clark, Champaign Police South District Commander. 

Police usually expect an increase in activity at the beginning of the school year due to the large influx of students back to campus, but recent numbers have been particularly high.

Between Aug. 15 and Sept. 8, Clark said 20 apartment burglaries were reported on campus in Champaign. At least another two have occurred since then, bringing the current total of incidents to 22, he said.

There is currently no evidence to prove the cases are related, but the majority concern theft from apartments that were left unlocked. Police have not noticed any additional trends among the cases.

According to Clark, the cases have been spread out across campus, as opposed to being concentrated in one area.

The types of property most commonly reported stolen include: purses, video game systems, cash and electronics — the vast majority of which were laptop computers, Clark said.

An Illini-Alert about the burglaries was sent out to University students on Sept. 11. The message advised residents to lock up their homes and vehicles and to avoid leaving valuables in plain sight. Clark said the number of incoming burglary reports has slowed down since the alert was sent out.

No arrests have been made in connection with the burglaries, however, Clark is “hopeful” that the perpetrators will be found.

“I think a big thing that’ll help us find out is if students call us if they see suspicious activity in their apartments,” he said. 

CPD is encouraging students to report any suspicious activity they see in their buildings, such as unfamiliar persons knocking on multiple doors. Residents are encouraged to call 911 for ongoing emergencies or the department’s non-emergency number to report other information.

To prevent future incidents, the police department has begun doing additional campus patrols. They are attempting to get information out to students via crime reports and social media. In addition, police have also begun working with property managers of apartment buildings on campus.

Michael Jay, director of public relations and communication at Campus Property Management, said that the main step in preventing future burglaries is to educate tenants. They plan to get news out to residents by sending emails and notices with information from CPD.

Many apartment complexes have already begun taking steps to ensure their residents’ safety. 

JSM Apartments recently added additional exterior lighting for added protection, according to Marianne Hartman, director of housing at JSM. The company has also installed several security systems with added control features to their apartments within the last few years.

Clark emphasized the main precaution residents can take is to lock their doors, even when they are in the house. According to Clark, in some recent incidents, the victim was at home at the time of the burglary.

He also said students should be especially careful to lock up their belongings during school breaks, which tend to be some of the peak times for burglaries to occur.

Despite recent incidents, police said they do not want students to get the feeling that campus is a dangerous place.

“I don’t want to give the impression that campus is not safe, because it is,” said Clark. “But it’s not a crime-free campus.”

Camille can be reached at [email protected]