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Seventeen bicycles were stolen on campus last week. A report in Tuesday’s Oracle, moreover, highlighted that bike thefts are generally on the rise on the USF campus, bringing the grand total of bike thefts this semester to 32.

According to University Police officials, bike thefts weren’t a problem in past years, because there were enough officers to patrol the campus.

“Officers said the University’s police force could have prevented the thefts in years past when UP was better staffed,” wrote staff writer Christine Gibson.

But UP is operating on a shoestring in terms of personnel, because it can’t pay its officers what other local law agencies pay their officers.

These agencies compete with UP for qualified personnel, and it’s no surprise that a difference of several thousands of dollars is enough incentive to opt for other work.

The result extends far beyond the realm of bike crime.

A thinned police force obviously means that preventable crime – in all its forms – is less likely to be prevented.

And, as demonstrated by a shifting pattern in the thefts’ execution, criminals go about their dirty work with a bit more gusto in light of a lagging police force.

Originally, the bikes were stolen between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Now, they are stolen during the day.

As reported in today’s Oracle, moreover, seven computers were stolen this week.

In addition to theft, female students must contend with the threat of a serial rapist near

campus who has evaded capture.

Responding to obvious shortfalls in campus security, Vice President of Student Affairs Jennifer Meningall said USF was seeking bids from private security companies to do some of UP’s work, like monitoring residence halls.

The plans, though yet to materialize, nevertheless show the University’s approach to safety to be skewed.

After all, if the administration can pay a security company to do police work, why not use those resources to pay UP

officers more?

Be they from UP or private firms, USF needs more officers now to keep campus safe.

If USF cannot do that, students will be ill-equipped to handle the dangers that confront them.

Although student government was right in its recent vote to provide free safety whistles to students, they are little more than a waste of breath if there aren’t enough officers to respond to calls of distress.