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Tony Webster // CC BY-SA 4.0

A total of 161 documented crimes took place at Penn this summer between May 16 and Aug. 16, according to data provided by the Division of Public Safety.

The number took into account all crimes that occurred within the DPS patrol zone, an area which encompasses a portion of University City, largely stretching from 30th to 43rd streets as the east and west borders and from Market St. to Baltimore Ave. as the north and south borders.

The majority of those crimes, 139 of the total 161, were characterized as "crimes against property," which are incidents such as burglary, arson, and theft, and 22 were considered "crimes against persons," which include murder, rape, and assault.

Penn Police responded to 11 instances of "simple assault" this summer, according to Maureen Rush, the vice president for public safety and the superintendent of the Penn Police Department. 

Rush said this represented an uptick from prior years when 7 and 6 simple assaults took place in the patrol zone in the summers of 2016 and 2017, respectively. Simple assaults refer to those that do not result in hospitalization.

She added that the majority of the victims in these incidents were health care workers in hospitals and indicated that the opiate crisis and other mental health issues were contributing factors in the increase. 

Despite small fluctuations in crime, Rush described the statistics as "pretty comparable" to previous summers, when 168 and 153 total crimes occurred over the same period in 2016 and 2017, respectively. 

Over the summer, the patrol zone also witnessed a spate of burglaries occurring around 40th Street, largely between Pine St. and Baltimore Ave. — an off-campus, predominantly residential area just south of campus. On Aug. 9, DPS sent an email to the Penn community writing that the "items were taken from residences for which doors or windows were unsecured."

With no suspects yet apprehended, Rush said investigators are still pursuing leads. 

Package thefts also remain an elusive source of crime within the area with people reporting approximately three to four packages as stolen from doorsteps over the summer.

"Across the country there is a pattern now where perpetrators are following the Amazon white truck, or the FedEx, or the UPS, and as soon as the delivery is made they grab the package and it's gone," Rush explained.

To curb package thefts, DPS encouraged all students either to be home for deliveries or to ensure deliveries arrived at secure locations, such as the local Amazon Center in 1920 Commons, certain dorms on campus, or the office for Campus Apartments, for their student tenants. The department is currently working with off-campus landlords to accept incoming package at their leasing offices.


Correction: A previous version of this article listed the number of simple assaults and the total number of crimes committed in 2016 as those committed in 2017, and vice versa. It also categorized robbery as a "crime against property" though it is not. The DP regrets the error.

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