Campus crime stats published
Earlier this month, College Security submitted the College's 2008 Campus Crime Statistics to the U.S. Department of Education and posted the information on the Department of Security web page.
In accordance with federal law, the report must list the counts for an array of potential campus crimes, ranging from burglary all the way to murder and arson for the calendar year of 2008. The statistics from 2008 are listed next to the same statistics for the calendar years 2006 and 2007.
The statistic that stands out most in the report is the significant increase in larceny, which increased to 86 counts in 2008 from 53 in 2007. Burglary increased to 15 counts in 2008 from 11 in 2007. Director of Security Pete Chenevert said, and the statistics show, that burglary and larceny are, by far, the two biggest crimes on campus. Distinguishing between the two, he said, "Burglary is usually in private spaces like dorm rooms. Larceny and theft take place in public spaces like the library or outside dining halls."
A big reason for the jump in larceny, Chenevert said, was the serial backpack thieves outside the dining halls. Last fall, over 20 backpacks were stolen from outside dining halls before the thieves were finally apprehended. "It turned out to be several kids from Waterville" who are not affiliated with the College, according to Chenevert.
After interviewing victims and collecting other evidence, Security was able to identify and track down the robbers with the help of the Waterville Police Department.
"When a crime happens in a private place, like a dorm, it's usually students," Chenevert said. "When it happens in a public place like outside a dining hall, or especially a parking lot, that's generally a clue that it's someone from outside of Colby."
Despite those events, students still leave dozens of backpacks outside of dining halls every meal. Michael Dakers '11 said, "When I toured as a prospective student, I remember my tour guide making a point to mention how students always leave bags around dining halls and the library, and I was really impressed with the trust and integrity of the community."
Evidently, many other students share Dakers' trust in the student body, as one will find unattended phones, iPods, books and laptops scattered throughout public places like Miller library or Pulver Pavilion.
It is items like these, small personal items like phones, iPods and wallets, that most frequently disappear, Chenevert said. "This is a beautiful place, this is a wonderful place, but it tends to give students a false sense of security, and a lot of the time that's when crimes happen."
While Chenevert said that these small thefts are usually solved, he still hopes and expects to see these numbers go down in 2009 and beyond, barring another event like the reoccurring backpack incident outside dining halls.
Chenevert urged students to take more precautions to protect their valuables. "Lots of kids don't lock their doors when they're sleeping or leaving the room for a short time, many kids don't lock their doors ever...all it takes is leaving your room to take a quick shower and someone can pop right in and out without you knowing."
While theft may be the most frequent crime on the Hill, Security also hopes to prepare students for more serious crimes. Security recently posted a video for students on their website titled, "Shots Fired On Campus: Guidance for Surviving an Active Shooter Situation."
The website also includes several other videos aimed at educating students about how to protect themselves and their property here.
The College is required to post their crime statistics by the Federal Right-To-Know and Campus Security Act, also known as the Clery Act. The Clery Act was enacted in 1990 after a 19-year-old Lehigh University freshman, Jeanne Clery, was raped and murdered in her residence hall.