Throughout March, five UPennAlerts were sent to the Penn community, including three in one week.
This flurry of safety alerts seems to point to an increase in crime during this past March, but the statistics suggest that crime trends have remained steady.
In terms of crimes against people, which include robbery and assault, March 2016 saw nine incidents, while March 2015 saw eight incidents. March 2016 also had 38 crimes against property, which include burglary and theft, in comparison with March 2015’s 39 crimes against property, according to statistics provided by the Division of Public Safety.
There were 34 total thefts and four burglaries in March 2016 and 36 total thefts and three burglaries in March 2015. The total crimes for the month of March 2016 was 47, the exact same number for the month of March 2015, DPS said.
Looking at the first three months of the year, starting Jan. 1 and ending March 31, there has been a slight increase in crimes against persons from 27 in 2015 to 34 in 2016. However, crimes against property dropped from 130 in 2015 to 111 in 2016.
Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said this was consistent with the downward trend in crime that DPS has seen recently.
Only two robberies occurred during March 2016.
On March 25, at 9:34 p.m., five minors surrounded an affiliated 22-year-old woman on the corner of 42nd Street and Pine Street. One grabbed what was believed to be her cell phone but turned out to be a big cookie. Undercover police officers observed the crime and apprehended all five minors.
Also on March 25, at 7:04 p.m., an elderly affiliated couple received a UPS package. A man rang their doorbell and claimed that the package belonged to him. This man tugged the package away from the elderly couple and ran away. His insistence and use of force to take the package led DPS to send out a UPennAlert in case the individual planned to commit a crime with the contents of the package. DPS is still looking for the suspect.
Despite the perceived increase in safety alerts, March did not see a significant increase in crimes in comparison to previous years. Two alerts did not concern crimes: they were sent after an electrical explosion and series of power outages.
As finals season approaches, DPS will take extra measures to protect students from crimes.
Rush advised students to always back up their work. She noted that when students study at coffee shops, step away from their laptops and have their laptops stolen, not only do they lose their laptops, but they lose all of their work. DPS has seen students lose 50-page theses after a computer was stolen.
“We’re even more attentive during busy periods, as students are preoccupied with studying and exams,” Rush said.
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