Campus crime increases with return of students and faculty

Reports of thefts and property damages during welcome week increased this year.

Kelly Busche

As students and faculty return to campus each fall, crime rates frequently spike.  

Some types of crime were reported more during this year’s welcome week than last. Incidents of theft and property damage have eclipsed those from last year. 

According to crime reports from the University of Minnesota Police Department, welcome week saw three more thefts than last year.

Nicholas Juarez, Minneapolis Police Department crime prevention specialist, said crime usually rises as students and faculty return to campus.

“The bad guys know that their victim pool has just quadrupled,” Juarez said.

Criminals are also aware more students means more gatherings, Juarez said, which give them easier access to houses and apartments.

“The numbers are always high [for thefts],” Juarez said, adding he doesn’t know what caused the increase from last year. 

Criminals target unattended bags and purses, and will sometimes take phones out of students’ hands, he said. 

University freshman Katherine Mueller said she expected higher crime rates than her hometown’s.

“Overall, I’ve felt pretty safe on campus so far,” Mueller said

UMPD Lieutenant Chuck Miner said the first weekends of school are the busiest for the department.  

“We go from 5,000 students to 52,000 in … a couple days,” he said. “With an increase in students, there’s increased chances of crime occurring.”

Miner said UMPD will increase the number of patrolling officers during the first few weeks of school.

“We usually have extra officers patrolling on weekend evenings when crime is most likely to occur,” he said.

MPD and UMPD also increase their presence during the day to connect and share safety tips with students, typically handing out free food on campus and in nearby neighborhoods, Juarez said. 

“We look at this as an opportunity to set rules for the neighborhood,” Juarez said.

Property incidents can happen when students leave doors and windows unlocked, Juarez said. 

“If you leave that house, you lock that door,” Juarez said.

Students can prevent crime from happening to them by walking with another person at night, he said. The “primetime” for crime is 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.

To maximize safety, Mueller said she will only walk alone if it’s daytime.

She said she has friends in different campus locations “in case anything goes wrong.”

People under the influence of alcohol are also more likely to be victims of crimes, according to Miner. These crimes can range from robbery, to assault, to theft, to personal injuries, he said. 

Miner and Juarez both said students can help prevent crime by being aware of their surroundings, and by using University safety resources like 624-WALK and Gopher Chauffeur.