University News

Burglaries most common campus crime in ’08

By
Senior Staff Writer
Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Department of Public Safety reported 111 criminal offenses occurring on campus and in surrounding areas in 2008, according to an annual crime report released by the department earlier this fall.

Of those 111, the vast majority, 84, were burglaries. There were also nine robberies and eight motor-vehicle thefts. There were five reported cases of aggravated assault, four forcible sex offenses and one case of arson, according to the report.

Consistent with previous years’ statistics, there were zero reported homicides or negligent manslaughters.

The report, which is federally mandated by the Clery Act, summarizes disciplinary referrals and crimes reported to DPS and the Providence Police for the calendar years 2008, 2007 and 2006.

Last year’s crime statistics represent a dramatic increase in the number of reported thefts. Last year’s 84 burglaries and eight motor vehicle thefts were up from 54 burglaries and four motor vehicle thefts in 2007.

Mark Porter, director of public safety, said the rise in theft was partially attributable to the bad economy and that Brown’s statistics were generally consistent with larger trends.
Porter also said 96 percent of burglaries occurred in unlocked dorm rooms. “We are seeing a rise in the issue of theft in unlocked and unattended rooms,” he said.

One student, Ishaan Sethi ’13, said he was surprised by the number of burglaries.
“I would think it would be like 10,” he said. “That’s really something I wouldn’t expect.”

This year’s statistics also show an increase in the number of reported hate crimes on campus — five in 2008, up from zero in 2007 and one in 2006. Of those five, three were classified as vandalism and two were classified as intimidation. All involved race or religion.

Some students expressed concern about the spike in this type of crime.

“It’s surprising and concerning,” said Aurora Durfee ’10. “Of course, I’d like to expect that we’re moving toward a more accepting environment, especially at Brown.”

But Porter said this uptick was due to a change in the U.S. Department of Education’s reporting regulations, which are binding on all colleges and universities participating in federal financial aid programs, including Pell Grants, Stafford Loans and Perkins Loans.

“In past years, intimidation and vandalism were not reportable hate crimes, and this past year they were,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. He said the majority of last year’s hate crimes were “vandalism-related incidents involving bias and derogatory graffiti.”

However, the number of forcible sex offenses in 2008 dropped by more than half — from 10 in 2007 to four in 2008.

Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Margaret Klawunn, whose office manages the University’s sexual assault resources, wrote in an e-mail to The Herald that it is difficult to identify a single cause for the drop, especially as sexual assault is widely known to be one of the most underreported crimes, both on and off college campuses.

The DPS report also listed the number of disciplinary referrals for alcohol, drugs and weapons law violations. In 2008, there were nine referrals for weapons violations, 29 for drugs and 31 for alcohol. This represents a departure from 2007, when there were 77 reported liquor law violations and 18 drug violations.

While there were no reported arrests for the 2008 violations, those found to be acting out of accordance with the University’s policy are referred to the Office of Student Life and are subject to the University’s disciplinary code.

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