Rises in burglaries, bike thefts and retail thefts have led the Division of Public Safety to initiate task forces to combat the problems.
The increased off-campus burglaries in May is of concern following the five committed last month with no arrests.
This rise in burglaries accompanies the overall spike in property crimes, an increase of 60 percent compared to May of last year.
Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said that DPS implemented a new task force to address the upswing in burglaries that involved three incidents with affiliated complainants and two unaffiliated.
The task force is using undercover and uniformed police officers for patrol as well as working with landlords in an effort to increase safety.
A total of 19 bike thefts occurred compared to the six of last May in the Penn Patrol Zone, which is located between 30th to 43rd streets and Market Street to Baltimore Avenue.
There were three arrests made in connection with bike thefts in May. The increase follows the March 2014 trend when 12 bike thefts occurred for the month compared with the three from the previous year.
The Division of Public Safety said they have implemented another task force with the intention of improving the level of security for bike racks on campus. “We’re looking at the root cause of the uptick,” Rush said.
The task force is looking at the locations of the racks and the lighting and cameras put in place around them. Rush said the task force is investigating supplementary technologies available to improve bike rack safety.
Retail theft rose to 17 incidents from the seven reported last year, which DPS has said they are looking into with the establishment of another task force devoted to retail theft specifically.
“There are certain stores here that the retail thieves love to go to.” Rush said.
Many times the CCTV cameras that cover Penn’s campus catch the criminals on film and uniformed officers can then be dispatched to make an arrest.
Building thefts are higher this May, but down by 11 percent for the calendar year. Five of the 31 building thefts for May were from non-Penn buildings. Rush said stolen packages from porches or entrances of residences and apartment buildings is an ongoing problem within the Penn patrol zone.
DPS stressed that crimes against people are their top priority and the number remains relatively stable with 45 incidents reported this calendar year and 53 incidents last year up to this point.
Forcible sex crimes decreased with only one reported in the month of May compared to four last year.
“You can never say it is good or bad when it’s up or down.” Rush said, noting that forcible sex crimes typically see less of a correlation between the crime occurring and the crime being reported.
Crimes against people remained stable with only one less this May. While forcible sex crimes went down, there were two more simple assaults than last May. The May crime log also saw two more purse snatches — which are thefts of property without use of force of something like a purse or a cellphone that a victim is actually holding.
With that said, the 47 percent increase in total crime for May 2014 compared with last May can be attributed to the increase in property crimes — the burglaries and the bike, building and retail thefts.