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Campus crime shifts from 2005-06

Karen Langley | Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Though statistics from the Notre Dame Security Police annual crime report show a decrease in reported burglaries on campus from 2005 to 2006, there is also an increase in liquor law arrests – and an even larger increase in larceny reports – between the two years.

The small number of reported forcible sex offenses also increased slightly from 2005 to 2006.

The NDSP crime report, which was e-mailed to students Monday, discloses reported crimes for the 2006 calendar year, as mandated by the federal Clery Act. College and university law enforcement agencies are the only agencies required by federal law to report crime statistics, said NDSP director Phil Johnson.

An incident of theft is categorized as burglary when it involved breaking and entering. A larceny involves the wrongful taking of property from an owner. Theft from a private dorm room is thus labeled a burglary, while theft from an outdoor quad is labeled a larceny.

There were 51 burglaries reported on campus during 2006 – a sharp decline from the 87 burglaries reported during 2005.

Johnson said the decrease could be attributed in part to education efforts. The police have been working with residence hall staffs to increase safety measures in dorms. Residents are urged to lock their doors when they are out of the room or asleep, he said.

“Crimes will happen often because of opportunity,” he said. “The way we live and interact with people and organize our lives may make us susceptible to crime.”

Though the number of burglaries dropped in 2006, the number of larcenies rose from 365 reported campus incidents in 2005 to 529 incidents in 2006 – an increase of 45 percent from one year to the next.

“Many larcenies on campus are preventable if people take steps to protect their property,” Johnson said.

Unlocked bicycles and unguarded laptops may invite the attention of a possible thief, he said.

At least part of the dramatic rise in reported larcenies can be attributed to an increase in campus bicycle thefts, he said.

“I don’t think every students at Notre Dame believes that taking someone else’s bike for a joy ride is larceny,” he said.

NDSP encourages bicycle owners to register their bikes so that there will be a greater chance of recovering them if they are stolen, he said.

Criminals can sometimes take advantage of a close community, he said.

“Men and women at Notre Dame are pretty trusting,” he said. “Most of us are going to respect people’s property and live by the Golden Rule.”

The number of forcible sex offenses reported increased to five reported incidents in 2006 from one report in 2005 and two reports in 2004.

The increase in reported incidents could be an increase in reports of incidents taking place rather than an increase in total incidents, Johnson said.

“At Notre Dame and campuses around the country, sexual assaults are underreported,” he said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in frequency.”

NDSP is working with offices and agencies such a the Gender Relations Center, the Office of Student Affairs, the Office of Residence Life and Housing and the Sex Offense Services and Family Justice Center of St. Joseph County to educate people about what constitutes a sex offense, how these crimes can be prevented and what services are available for victims of crimes. NDSP also offers a 12-hour rape defense course for women.

“Any number of assaults is too many for us,” he said.

The number of liquor law arrests increased from 180 arrests in 2005 to 227 arrests in 2006. Liquor law violations referred for disciplinary action dropped, however, from 354 violations in 2005 to 266 violations in 2006.

The increased number of arrests in 2006 might stem from the addition of a seventh home game to the football schedule that year, he said.

Notre Dame’s campus is notable for the degree to which its residents consider one another’s safety, Johnson said.

“People actually do look out for one another,” he said.