November 26, 2007

Theft, Criminal Mischief Dominate C.U. Crime Stats Report

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Despite the occasional crime alert emailed to members of the Cornell community, Ithaca is often considered to be a relatively safe town. This belief is supported by current crime statistics as given in the Clery Report, an annual report that colleges and universities must publish.
The reports, which are mandated by the Higher Education Act of 1865, focus on seven different types of crime, where the crimes take place and what actions are taken against the criminal. The reports are made public and can be viewed online.
Captain Kathy Zoner of the Cornell University Police Department acknowledged that the most common crimes on campus are “crimes of opportunity”: property crimes such as theft and criminal mischief.
The data collected in the Clery Report support this statement. From 2004-2006 there were 151 reported accounts of burglary and robbery on and off campus. There were also 15 reported incidents of motor vehicle theft during this time period, as well as six reported fires started by arsonists.
In an email, Zoner said that these crimes typically occur in “public areas such as libraries and gymnasiums, and residence halls where doors and/or windows are not secured properly by locking them.”
These crimes are often linked to a school’s location. For example, the 123 burglaries and robberies that have occurred at rural Dartmouth is similar to that of Cornell. However, at the University of Pennsylvania, located in the center of Philadelphia, there were 221 reports of robbery.
Alcohol use may also play a part in college crime rates because many crimes are committed by inebriated students. Zoner said, “There is definitely a high correlation between alcohol use and assaults, sexual assaults and disorderly conduct.”
Zoner added that with both assault and sex offenses, the victims often know their assailants. This is not true for robberies and other property crimes such as vandalism.
According to the Clery Report, there were 24 reported instances of sexual offenses and aggravated assault both on and off campus between 2004 and 2006. Both Dartmouth and Penn reported 38 accounts of these crimes.
In recent years, there has been a rise in manslaughter on college campuses due to such tragedies as the shooting at Virginia Tech. At Cornell, however, there have been no incidents of murder/non-negligent manslaughter or negligent manslaughter.
There have also been no reported incidents of non-forcible sex offenses, which in the Clery Report, refers only to incest or statutory rape.
In addition to criminal offenses, the CUPD website monitors the number of hate crimes reported on campus. These crimes refer to incidents showing bias based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or disability. Between 2003 and 2005, there were 14 such crimes at Cornell.
The CUPD website also shows that between 2003 and 2005, there were three arrests at Cornell for weapons possession, 78 arrests for people caught driving while intoxicated, 58 arrests for liquor law violation and 94 arrests for drug law violations. In addition, there were many more people referred to the police for liquor and drug law violations who were not ultimately arrested.
To help insure Cornellians’ safety, there are 86 blue light phones around campus, which connect directly to the Cornell University Police Department. Students may also use these phones to request an escort when walking alone at night.
The Ithaca Police Department was unavailable for comment for this article.