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Crime on the decline at USF

The University Police department is putting the final touches on the 2004 crime statistics report that will be sent to Tallahassee. It shows an overall downward trend in crime at USF in 2004 from the previous year. The statistics should be completely processed, fine-tuned and ready for the state capitol by March.

“(The numbers) are preliminary numbers. If there are any kind of changes, they are going to be small,” said Sergeant Michael Klingebiel, the public information officer for UP here at USF.

Major crimes (including but not limited to murder, sexual assault, aggravated assault, burglary and theft) dropped just over 25 percent overall in 2004, from 769 cases in 2003 to 571 cases in 2004. Minor crimes (including but not limited to narcotics violations, liquor law violations and simple assault) dropped by 29 percent in 2004, from 407 instances in 2003 to 289 instances in 2004.

Major violent crimes, like murder, saw no significant change and have extremely low incidence rates. The number of murders on campus was 0 in 2003 and 0 in 2004.

Theft, robbery, burglary, theft from a car and cars stolen combined were down 26 percent in 2004, from 757 occurrences in 2003 to 560 occurrences in 2004.

The overall dollar value of property lost in 2004 was also down from 2003. The dollar amount of property lost at USF went down just over 29 percent. USF property loss (such as office supplies and computer equipment) dropped 9 percent, from $441,487 in 2003 to $398,713 in 2004. Other property loss (like personal property on campus) decreased 57 percent, from $304,539 in 2003 to $129,992 in 2004.

While property was much safer overall at USF in 2004 than in 2003, property in parking lots wasn’t.

Theft from cars rose 77.5 percent in 2004, surging from 40 incidences in 2003 to 71 incidences in 2004. The number of vehicles stolen rose by 16 percent, from 41 to 49.

“When it comes to motor vehicle theft, it’s almost pretty safe to say (that) what is occurring off campus is occurring on,” said Klingebiel.

Cars in general didn’t have the best year in 2004.

Traffic accidents rose 13.5 percent, from 392 in 2003 to 445 in 2004.

Traffic citations also increased. They went up by 49 percent, from 992 in 2003 to 1485 in 2004.

In minor crimes where the offender is referred to student affairs and not prosecuted — namely drug and alcohol violations — the number skyrocketed 140 percent, from 105 cases in 2003 to 252 cases in 2004.

Minor alcohol violations went up an astounding 236 percent in 2004. There were just 30 in 2003, but 101 in 2004. Klingebiel noted that alcohol is something all universities need to focus on.

“If you think about it in terms of a traditional college age, that is three out of four years where there should be no alcohol,” Klingebiel said.

Most students, when asked about the increase, jumped to the conclusion that the addition of the Greek Village factored heavily into that number, but Klingebiel disagrees.

“There is nothing that I can point to that shows Greek housing is having any greater impact on incidents that we respond to than our other housing,” Klingebiel said.

Along with minor alcohol violations, minor narcotics incidences also saw a big rise in 2004, mostly from marijuana. Narcotics incidents rose by 387.5 percent, from just 8 in 2003 to 39 in 2004.

“There should never be drugs,” Klingebiel said.

That is not to say that all of the drug and alcohol busts on campus were minor; there were 125 instances in 2004 where drug and alcohol violations were dealt with by the police and not student affairs.

There was also an increase in the number of DUI (driving under the influence) arrests, which more than doubled, from 17 arrests in 2003 to 35 in 2004. Klingebiel credits the University Police’s enactment of the zero-tolerance policy with the increase in DUI arrests.