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Crime Stats: Alcohol Violations Up, Overall Crime Down

Theft stays constant, computers targeted

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Make sure to watch those computers: Jorge Rivera (CAS'12), Patrick Moriarty (CAS'13) and Shree Radhakrishnan (CAS, SMG'12) study on laptops in the GSU. Thefts reported on campus included unattended computers. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky. Photo below by Vernon Doucette

Overall crime numbers on the Charles River Campus and the Medical Campus dropped 6 percent last year from the previous year, while the number of incidences of students written up by Boston University Police for underage drinking jumped significantly, according to the University’s annual security and fire safety report, released on September 30.

The report, which the BU Police Department compiles in accordance with the federal Clery Act, lists all crimes reported to police during each calendar year on the Charles River and Medical campuses, in University-owned buildings off campus, and on public property abutting BU. Crime that occurs off campus, such as in rental apartments, is not included.

The report showed that the incidence of theft—including robbery, burglary, and motor vehicle theft—remained roughly level, with 78 incidents in 2009, 77 in 2008, and 86 in 2007.

“Boston University is a target-rich environment for theft,” says Scott Paré, BUPD deputy director of public safety. “We have all the good things,” like laptops and iPads. “It’s an open campus, and people know that there’s an opportunity here. Students feel safe here, but it happens when they let their guard down and leave items unattended.”

The number of times University Police sent students to the Judicial Affairs Office, BU’s disciplinary office, for underage drinking violations jumped by 13 percent, rising from 409 in 2008 to 468 in 2009. The spike reverses what had been a downward trend since 2006, when referrals peaked in recent years at 515.

“This may be a result of increased vigilance in the residence halls, particularly by the security staff, in recognizing intoxicated students,” says David McBride, medical director of Student Health Services. “The security staff have a very low threshold, appropriately so, for calling the police when a student is visibly intoxicated.”

Alcohol arrests, however, continue to plummet. In 2006, officers nabbed 95 students for underage drinking. Each successive year has seen fewer arrests, with only 12 recorded last year.

Drug arrests in 2009 also dropped by about 80 percent over the previous year, largely because of the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana. At its most recent peak, in 2006, BU Police made 56 drug-related arrests. That number dropped to 15 arrests in 2007, rose slightly to 21 in 2008, and plunged last year to 4.

“Possession of marijuana of less than an ounce is no longer a criminal offense,” says Paré, explaining that most drug arrests at BU were for marijuana. “It is now a civil penalty with a fine” in Massachusetts.

Down also were the number of sexual assaults, with 2 reported last year, 9 reported in 2008, and 10 in 2007. According to the Clery Act, counselors and clergy who are told of sexual assaults in confidence are not required to report them to police.

“I am certain that there has been no positive change in the actual number of sexual assaults,” McBride says. “I believe that there is dramatic underreporting of these crimes everywhere, not just at BU.”

The number of other violent crimes has been low or nonexistent at BU. No murders or manslaughter cases were reported for the past three years. BU Police tallied eight cases of aggravated assault in 2007 and seven cases each in 2008 and 2009.

Police reported only two crimes last year on the Medical Campus: one burglary and one illegal possession of a weapon.

No crime was reported at BU’s international locations. This was the first time such sites were included in the annual report.

Leslie Friday can be reached at lfriday@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @lesliefriday.

3 Comments

3 Comments on Crime Stats: Alcohol Violations Up, Overall Crime Down

  • Anonymous on 10.06.2010 at 12:40 pm

    Are we really supposed to be surprised that underaged drinking has jumped 13%? I truly hope that the BUPD isn’t surprised either, because then there’s a reality check in store. Alcohol has been and probably always will be a problem on college campuses. It’s not easy to keep people under 21 from getting a hold of alcohol. Honestly, while it’s good for security to get these drunk kids medical assistance if they require it, I’d rather the money allocated to the BUPD be spent in more productive ways, ways that perhaps prevent all the thefts we have on campus.

  • Anonymous on 10.06.2010 at 8:21 pm

    theft at BU

    I have a hard time believing your theft stats. My daughter experienced 2 incidents of theft in one month. And you only had 78 in a year! That doesn’t seem right to me.

  • Alumni on 09.29.2011 at 10:33 am

    Students drink alcohol. Anyone who thinks they don’t is simply lying to themselves. Instead of ‘cracking down’ on underage drinking, we should be trying to educate our kids on the importance of safe drinking habits. The reason we have such problems with binge drinking in America is because we consider it such a crime, when in reality, it has been a social aspect of life for thousands of years.

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