Property theft has been the most highly reported crime on campus this semester, according to campus police reports. By a large margin, thefts happen more often than robberies, assaults or harassments on and around campus.
These thefts often occur because property is left unattended in public places, such as classrooms and locker rooms. Libraries are also a very common spot for thefts to take place, since students often leave their bags alone.
While recovering stolen items is rare, computers are often returned, provided that the student knows the serial number.
“We have a service where you can register your bike, your computer, anything with a serial number,” said Temple Investigations Capt. Robert Lowell. If students register these types of belongings with the police, the chance that they will recover their property after a theft increases.
Robberies, which differ from simple theft in that they involve violence or the threat of violence, on campus are much rarer than theft of property.
“On the center of campus, we really have very few [robberies],” Lowell said. “The edges of campus are typically the worst,” he added.
Recently, there have been two robbery attempts on the north side of campus, though Lowell said that the popular locations for robbery attempts around campus often change. He also explained that certain times of the school year are more prone to robberies and muggings.
“This time of year you’ll see an increase in this type of crime,” Lowell said.
He explained that this was because students are more likely to be carrying shopping bags and large amounts of cash during the holiday season.
The beginning of the school year is also a time when the police have noticed a rise in the number of muggings occurring on campus. During this time, there are more students outside late into the night, which creates more opportunity for crime to take place.
Automobile break-ins are another of the more prevalent crimes at Temple. Many students and faculty park their cars along the streets around campus and return to find them criminalized or stolen.
Lowell said that the worst places to park cars are around the edges of campus. The streets around the Kardon Building and University Village have recently been the location of a considerable number of break-ins.
Lowell explained that students who park in the University parking lots greatly decrease their chances of being the victims of a theft. He also added that it is important for students who do park their cars on the street not to leave any possessions in their cars out in plain sight.
One of the most rarely reported crimes on campus is that of sexual assault and rape. While isolated incidents do occur, random acts of sexual assault are almost unheard of at Temple.
“Most people think that someone jumping out of the bushes is the type of rapes at a university,” Lowell said. He explained that this belief is inaccurate, and that most rapes occur with someone the victim knows, and often trusts. Date rapes and rapes during parties are the most common types of sexual assaults that are reported to the department.
Lowell stressed the importance of reporting these crimes, regardless of the circumstances that led to the assault. He also noted that the crimes on campus have not significantly increased or decreased this semester in relation to other years.
“Compared to last year at this point, we’re just about at the same number [of crimes],” Lowell said.
He added that a difference will be seen in regards to the location of crimes when the police department’s annual security report comes out for 2004.
This is due to the change in the University’s on-campus housing. Some housing units that were considered to be on-campus last year are now run by non-Temple businesses. Even though the site of the buildings has not changed, they will now be considered non-campus residences. Lowell said that the number of non-campus crimes will increase, but the total number of crimes that are recorded will be virtually unchanged.
Lowell added that the Temple Police are continually working to make the campus safer for students by keeping a record of all criminal activity on campus. With these records, police are better able to figure out criminal patterns, and send more patrols to high-crime areas.
“We just want people to be aware of their surroundings and report crime,” Lowell said.
Emily Catalano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org