Theft rises, robberies stabilize in February
Division of Public Safety working to combat building theft, bike theft
March 13, 2013, 12:32 am·
Michele Ozer | DP
The month of February has brought nine assaults this month on campus— an increase from the same period in 2012 — but only one of the victims was affiliated with the University.
In all, crimes against persons have risen 64 percent this year so far when compared with the same period in 2012, but the distribution of these crimes has remained largely the same. For instance, the number of robberies on Penn’s campus has stayed roughly the same as it was in 2012.
However, Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said, “You can never say, okay that’s done, we don’t have to worry about robberies anymore,” although there have been no robberies with a gun so far this year.
There were 62 thefts from buildings within the Division of Public Safety patrol zone during the first two months of this year — up from 33 during the same period last year — and in January, there were 42 thefts from buildings alone.
According to Rush, DPS is addressing the problem by continuing to work with the deans of the schools to install card readers at side access doors, an initiative that has been called Operation Building Safe.
The DPS website does not list precisely how many buildings participate in Operation Building Safe. Rush mentioned that buildings belonging to the school of Nursing, Education, Public Policy and the Dental School have card readers, but whether criminals are “tailgating” into buildings through the front door remains to be seen.
Most criminals don’t do this, Rush said. “For them, the fewer people [who] see them go in, the better.”
She added that only eight of the 20 building thefts in February were from University and academic buildings, the remainder being from retail establishments and other locations in the area.
Nevertheless, common theft remains a problem on Penn’s campus. There have been 87 thefts this year so far compared to 58 in the same period in 2012.
Rush was particularly proud of the fact that there were no bike thefts this February — and that only four have occurred since the start of the year.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work around theft prevention for bicycles,” she added, saying that DPS has effectively combated bike theft by identifying threats on camera and then arresting the suspects when they are found carrying bolt cutters.
There has, however, been an uptick in thefts from vehicles, Rush said. “More than we’ve seen in past years.”
“Clearly someone is working the area,” Rush added.