Metro, News

DPS, students discuss safety concerns on College Hill

Larceny leads crime on and around campus, concentrated in half-mile radius

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, February 26, 2018

Since the beginning of the fall semester, there have been 51 cases of larceny on campus, one robbery and nine breaking and entering occurrences among other crimes on College Hill.

On Nov. 8, Eliza Hicks ’21 went to bed with her laptop and phone on her desk and her backpack on the ground by her bedpost. When she woke up the next morning, her backpack was gone; she immediately thought she had misplaced it. After checking places she frequents on campus, she asked her roommate, Alexis Jackson ’21, if she had seen it. Jackson told Hicks that she had seen a man in their room the night before.

Both roommates “started crying” when they realized a man in his boxers had been in their room, Hicks said. “He wasn’t really in any rush to get out of here,” Jackson said. “That he could be so close to Eliza … that grosses me out.”

Since the beginning of fall 2017, there have been 51 larcenies, one robbery, one attempted robbery, nine breaking and entering occurrences and one motor vehicle theft on or around campus, according to the Brown DPS weekly incident summaries. The Department of Public Safety’s records and individual students’ stories provide a comprehensive picture of safety on College Hill.

Nearly half of the larcenies were bikes, with 23 stolen bikes reported to DPS since last September. Other frequently stolen items include backpacks, wallets, computers and cellphones.

DPS crime reports do not include sensitive incidents. Hicks’ experience is not in the DPS crime report. This is often to prevent identifying information — particularly in cases of assault — from reaching the public, said University Deputy Chief of Police Paul Shanley, adding that these reports can be found in the Clery log in DPS Headquarters at 75 Charlesfield Street.

The four buildings that have seen most theft are all located within the same half-mile radius; the Facilities Management building at 295 Lloyd Ave., Pizzitola Sports Center, the  Olney-Margolies Athletic Center and Jonathan Nelson ’77 Fitness Center each had more than three incidents reported since September.

Shanley believes that most theft is carried out by individuals outside of the University community. For example, if there is a pick-up game of basketball at the OMAC, “someone might let someone who isn’t a part of the Brown community in,” Shanley said, adding that it’s those individuals who have a tendency to take things.

In Hicks’ case, she believes that the theft was carried out by a Brown student.

The afternoon of Nov. 9, the stolen backpack was left in the hallway of Hicks’ and Jackson’s dorm and later found by a Resident Peer Leader. This led both Jackson and Hicks to believe the man who had been in their room was a Brown student. “I got my backpack back, but I was still affected by it,” Hicks said. “I felt disempowered.”

After she discovered the theft, Hicks first went to an RPL, who then helped her file a report with Brown DPS. But Hicks felt blamed by the DPS officer, as he responded by saying  “you should have locked your door,” she said.

On the other hand, the University, including the Office of Residential Life, was supportive when she reported the incident, she said. They immediately offered to change her lock at no charge, as her key had been in the stolen backpack.

“The assistant dean of students sent me an email so the school took some formal steps which is nice,” Hicks said. Jackson said she received emails from administration as well.

Both roommates still believe it’s important to know these things do happen on campus. “I think people should lock their doors,” Hicks said.

According to Shanley, students can help prevent stealing by staying vigilant and not holding the door open for individuals who might not have swipe access to the building.

“We try to preach awareness,” he said. “We believe Brown is a safe campus … especially for an urban campus,” he added.