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Campus burglaries preventable

Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 22:01

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Rebecca Ingram

Fall semester 2013 saw a concentration of local burglaries that left many students wondering just how safe East Tennessee State University is.

April Richardson, an ETSU journalism student, was the victim of one such car burglary in late October.

“I got up at 8 a.m. to go to class, about two miles from campus, and discovered my car [had] been broken into,” Richardson said.

“They took my purse with my wallet, a jacket and some other trivial items, and a spare key to my car.”

Three similar vehicle break-ins took place at Buccaneer Ridge in September, and in mid-October, a student was robbed at gunpoint in Lot 11 behind Davis Apartments.

According to the annual campus security report, there were 32 burglaries on campus and in campus-owned housing over the course of the spring 2013 and fall 2013 semesters.

“It really just piled more stress onto what I already had and inconvenienced me quite a bit,” Richardson said.

“I had to miss three classes just to get everything back in order and replaced, which also set me back a lot. I’m a little worried they may come back, considering I’m at this house most nights, and they have the spare for my car.”

While it may seem like a runaway problem, ETSU Public Safety Lt. Michael Orr said that the issue of car burglaries on campus can be solved with simple awareness and student proactivity.  
“Most of the crime is opportunity crime,” Orr  said. “In other words, somebody leaves their door open or they leave stuff in their car. Things of that nature is what we’re having problems with.”

Orr said that because 90 percent of the burglaries that occurred on campus were opportunistic.

This was true of Richardson’s experience as well.

“I’d parked the car in a friend’s driveway in a nice neighborhood, but I’d left my driver side door unlocked,” she said. “They left the thing worth the most, my stereo, alone, though, which makes me think a young person or a petty thief was to blame.”

Though numerous burglaries occurred on campus last semester, Orr believes that the insular nature of university life aids in keeping more serious crimes at bay, he said.

“I think you have more of a condensed area that is regularly patrolled and people see us. More visibility, if you want to put it that way.”

According to NerdScholar.com, ETSU was 182 percent lower than the national college average for burglaries in 2011.

In 2011, ETSU had a crimes-per-1,000-students burglary rate of 1.311, while Middle Tennessee State University had a rate of 1.135 burglaries per 1,000 students during the same time period.

Orr said that despite the perceived rise in theft at ETSU, there hasn’t been a large increase.

The campus safety reports show that on-campus burglaries have been steadily declining for the past few years with 22 in 2010, 20 in 2011 and 15 in 2012.  
Orr attributes this drop to an increase in campus awareness, he said. “I think that students and faculty and staff are realizing that we have an open campus, and I think they’re taking more active measures to prevent crime.”

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