More robberies, more drug arrests, official says
Burglaries and motor vehicle thefts on campus rose in 2010 along with drug arrests in residence halls, according to the annual security and fire safety report released Friday.
On-campus burglaries jumped from 68 in 2009 to 87 in 2010. The total is still lower than in 2008, when 99 on-campus burglaries occurred. The number of burglaries that occurred specifically in residence halls was 38, about the same as in the past two years, meaning that most new thefts occurred in nondormitory campus buildings.
Eric Grabski, associate director of USC’s Division of Law Enforcement and Safety, said most items stolen were unsecured, and he urged students to lock their dormitory rooms and keep track of their belongings.
“Typically, what will happen is somebody who knows how to blend in looks for an opportunity, and that opportunity is an open door, it’s a book bag that’s left unattended, it’s a purse on a desk that’s unattended, that type of thing,” Grabski said. “Less frequently is it an actual forced entry, where someone is actually breaking in.”
Grabski said a number of items were stolen from the business and science buildings last year and that those arrested included nonstudents and students. USC police even arrested an employee for theft last year. So far this year, burglaries have been concentrated in the Quads, Bates House, Bates West and, to a lesser extent, the Honors Residence Hall.
The number of on-campus motor vehicle thefts increased from 15 to 26 between 2009 and 2010. In 2008 there were 17, and in 2007 only 7.
Grabski said eight of those motor vehicle thefts were mo-peds, which are easier to steal than traditional vehicles.
“We have a number of community members that now drive mo-peds, and we have seen that number increase drastically over the past five years,” Grabski said.
Grabski said USC is working to increase security in parking lots and garages by adding lighting and video cameras.
The crime report states the number of drug arrests specifically in residence halls roughly doubled between 2009 and 2010, from 24 to 46, after drug arrests had dropped from 32 in 2008.
But the report lists the total drug violation arrests on campus as 23. Grabski said he would not be able to check the discrepancy until Tuesday.
“Statistically, you will find that marijuana is the biggest illegal drug of choice on campus,” Grabski said, but added that the USC police occasionally arrested student for harder drugs.
Arrests for liquor law violations in residence halls — which include offenses concerning beer — dropped from 22 in 2009 to 6 in 2010. Similarly, arrests for liquor law violations on campus halved from 30 to 15.
Arrests for liquor law violations on campus public property — not in buildings or residence halls — more than halved from 43 to 16.
From 2009 to 2010, disciplinary actions for on-campus drug violations more than halved from 76 to 35, and for liquor violations they precipitously dropped from 498 to 164. In 2008, actions against on-campus liquor violations were at 751.
But disciplinary actions for residence hall drug and liquor violations paint a much different story. Disciplinary actions for drug violations in residence halls climbed from 66 in 2009 to 164 in 2010. For liquor violations, they climbed from 433 to 690.
“What may be happening is that officers are not making criminal charges but referring them to the Office of Student Conduct,” Grabski said. “That also may explain why you see such a drastic increase in the number of referrals regarding alcohol and liquor law violations.”
Grabski said freshmen are most commonly victimized because all 4,550 of them live on campus. Despite the incoming class size increasing for the past few years, Grabski said USC’s police force has not hired more officers. When asked if the current force of about 60 officers is enough to deal with the increased population, Grabski said only that the Division of Law Enforcement and Safety “would like to see a force that is appropriate to handle the community that it serves.
“We’re utilizing our resources as effectively as we can,” Grabski said.
Reilly Williams, a first-year athletic training student, said she feels secure living in Patterson Hall because the doors lock properly. But she and her friends said they felt afraid walking alone at night on campus.
Amy Baillargeon, a first-year biology student, said she felt “pretty safe” on campus.
“We don’t really know anyone who has had anything happen to them,” Baillargeon said.