25 Apr 2012

Campus Burglary: A High Concern

Author: Carrie Brittson | Filed under: BGSU, Enterprise Story, Spring 2012

BG campus police patrole the campus throughtout the day to help prevent crime. Photo by Carrie Brittson

By Carrie Brittson

Burglary on campus at Bowling Green State University more than tripled from 2008 to 2010 due to misclassification. However in 2011, it decreased 38 percent because of the addition of cameras and other security precautions such as PED locks, which are dorm locks that need a special scan key to unlock the building doors.

 “The unofficial count of cases in 2011 is 41,” Katherine Dieterich, campus record supervisor, said in an email.

Detective Tony Dotson, a campus police officer, said burglary is a main concern on campus.

The reason there was such a big spike from 2008 to 2010 was because of misclassification. Prior to 2008, thefts from rooms were classified as thefts and not burglaries, Dotson said. However, it was changed and classified under burglary after 2008 to comply with the Jeanne Cleary Act, Dotson said. BGSU’s campus crime for 2010 is high compared to averages of other universities, which also have around 20,000 students.

Burglary cases from two other schools. Data collected by Carrie Brittson from each schools' crime report.

Thefts on campus include anything of value and is easily portable, but laptops are the most common, Dotson said. He said thefts usually spike prior to winter break because people are trying to make money for the holidays as well as others being too busy and not paying attention.

Adam Watkins, assistant professor of criminal justice, said a main factor of campus crime is because the opportunity comes easy.

“People have the desire to want an item and it is easy to get on campus when doors are left unlocked,” Watkins said “it’s opportunistic.”

Freshman Rachel Sherwood had to file a burglary report last year. Sherwood returned to her dorm from the Machine Gun Kelly concert and left to wash her hands, she said.

“The bathroom is right next to my room so I always left it unlocked and when I returned my phone was gone,” Sherwood said in an email. Since the incident, Sherwood said she always makes sure she locks her door no matter how long she will be gone.

Sye White, also a freshman, filed a report at the end of last semester for a stolen phone and psychology book from the Harshman-Anderson floor lounge.

“Everyone knows me, so I didn’t think it would happen,” White said. White said he was irritated that his things were gone instantly, and he never leaves anything unattended anymore.

 There are precautions BGSU takes to try and prevent these situations. The Jeanne Cleary Act requires all colleges and universities to publish a yearly crime statistics report that is accessible to anyone.

The report lists burglary, or the act of someone entering a building to commit a crime usually consisting of theft, as the most common crime that occurs on campus. Theft is the act of a person stealing an object from anywhere. The report does not include items stolen from a vehicle under burglary.

Dorms on campus have limited access because a PED key is needed to unlock a door, Dotson said. PED keys are only given to residents or staff who access the building regularly. He said they have also added several more cameras to areas around dorms to try and provide evidence when necessary. These factors have helped with the decrease in burglary cases.

Watkins said police could do more to help the students understand these situations.

“Campus police should systematically look at information about where it happens the most, what is usually stolen and try to communicate it better to students to help prevent more of these cases,” Watkins said.

 “During the beginning of the school year, campus drinking becomes another concern,” Dotson said. Underage and binge drinking happen because of the false assumption that crazy drinking is part of the college life; students create these assumptions from movies like “Animal House,” Dotson said. However, arrests decrease within the first few months while burglary still remains persistent.

“Be mindful,” Dotson said “don’t leave yourself open for the opportunity.”

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