COLLEGE PARK – An unseasonably warm winter may be the cause of a recent increase in off-campus crimes around the University of Maryland, College Park, police say. In the month of January alone, six off-campus safety notices were issued to university students. Consisting of three burglaries, two assaults and one disturbance involving theft, safety notice […]
COLLEGE PARK – An unseasonably warm winter may be the cause of a recent increase in off-campus crimes around the University of Maryland, College Park, police say.
In the month of January alone, six off-campus safety notices were issued to university students. Consisting of three burglaries, two assaults and one disturbance involving theft, safety notice reports for January 2017 were at their highest frequency in the past seven years.
On average, there was slightly more than one (1.14) crime report each year for January from 2010 to 2016. The six crime reports during January 2017 represent a number of crimes for that month five times greater (5.25) than in previous years.
Campus police say they are still working on figuring out the details of many of these crime reports.
“Many of the recent investigations are still in progress, so we’re working to identify who is involved in these incidents,” said Officer C. Brown of the College Park Police Department. “But in past investigations, typically off-campus crimes have been committed by people who aren’t students.”
Some students say they’ve noticed a higher than usual number of University of Maryland alerts recently, usually from locations off campus.
“It definitely feels like I’ve gotten a lot more phone alerts the past couple months,” said Tiana Walker, a senior neurobiology and physiology student. “I don’t really worry about it, though, since I practically live on campus and they’re not near me.”
For students who live on south campus, closer to where the incidents have occurred, the high number of recent alerts have been concerning.
“It definitely doesn’t make me feel safe,” said Elias Hilaire, a senior biology major. “It seems like the police don’t take the reports seriously and give the all-clear too soon.”
Hilaire said he doesn’t see the number of recent reports as higher than average, since he believes the areas around south campus generally aren’t safe. Five of the six crime reports for January occurred near the south side of campus near Baltimore Avenue and Knox Road.
“I used to live on south campus and there were always incidents around Knox Road by the apartments,” he said.
Although many of the crimes occurred near student housing, College Park Police say students normally aren’t involved in off-campus crimes. They also don’t have a definitive answer as to why there’s been an increase in crime over the past few months, but list a number of possible contributing factors.
“It’s possible that college students are seen as easier targets, and as the student population grows, word gets spread among people who commit crimes,” Brown said. “It could also be because it’s been such a mild winter. We usually see an increase in crime during warmer months.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) forecast described a warmer, drier winter for southern states including Maryland.
Although Brown says campus police aren’t concerned that overall crime near campus is rising, officers are committed to ensuring the safety of students and responding to whatever calls come their way.