Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 16, 2024

Off-campus crime shows no signs of abatement

By AMANDA AUBLE | October 31, 2013

Despite the influx of Campus Security alerts in Hopkins students’ inboxes, this year’s on-campus crime is predicted to decrease and continues to decline from around 10 years ago, according to Campus Safety and Security. The University’s Annual Clery Report, which details crime statistics from the last three years, however, reveals a trend of noticeable increases in off-campus crime, such as burglaries. Forcible sex acts also saw a sharp increase last year.

“I definitely feel safe on campus. There are always security guards around. Even at night I don’t feel like the campus is that dangerous,” freshman Chelsea Zou said.

Yet this is not always the case when students step off-campus.

“I feel safe on [the] actual campus, but I’m living at Homewood [Apartments] this year,” sophomore Katie Ross said. “I generally feel safe walking back, but I know a lot of crimes that have recently happened on that block. One of my friends saw a girl get her phone stolen right out of her hands.”

Hopkins Campus Safety and Security asserts that it has developed many new programs to curb crime.

“Since 2005, Campus Safety and Security has taken a very proactive approach to improve the safety of the Hopkins community and crime has been dramatically decreased to this point. We are always monitoring and assessing crime trends making the necessary adjustments to reduce the opportunities for crime,” Executive Director of Campus Safety and Security Edmund Skrodzki said. “It is our philosophy that security is a continuous and ever-evolving process and in this regard Campus Safety and Security will strive to keep JHU among the safest campus communities.”

Cases of theft are not limited to the Homewood Campus. Other universities located in the Baltimore area, a city ranked by Forbes as the seventh most dangerous in the nation, have also experienced similar crime this fall, particularly with respect to robberies.

“It varies, it’s mostly crimes of opportunity, but frequently it is electronics, laptops phones and things of that nature, but you do have your bicycles in there books, backpacks, but mostly its when folks leave stuff unattended it leaves itself susceptible for somebody to come and take it,” Deputy Chief of Police at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) Paul Dillon said.

With three years of experience at UMBC and a total of 26 years in campus law enforcement, Dillon is familiar with the regular pattern of theft.

“There are spikes at certain times of the year. Early fall is usually a time where crime will rise and as the semester wears on it tends to lessen,” Dillon said, “You have less crime in December and January when there’s less students and less opportunities. It’s all about the population that’s on campus.”

According the Loyola University’s Daily Crime Log, between Aug. 6 and Sept. 30, there were approximately 40 incidents of on-campus crimes, including theft, vandalism, burglary and assault.

These local universities have implemented their own programs to curb crime.

Towson University Police Department utilizes a state-of-the-art text message notification system that sends texts instantly during an emergency to all those registered, according to the Towson Safety and Security website.

In 2003, Loyola University implemented the Loyola Emergency Notification System (LENS) used to inform its campus community about impending disasters. It uses a centrally controlled public address system with alerts, programmed messages and live voice communications with detailed instructions for emergencies.

These institutions, along with Hopkins, also promote active student involvement to decrease criminal activity.

Notably, the Hopkins Security has acted to prevent bicycle thefts through the Bicycle Hang Tag Program. According to Security, U-Bolt locks serve as the best protection for unattended bikes. This program mandates security officers to place warning tags on bikes using cable locks or no locks at all.

According to Skrodzki, the program has increased the use of U-Bolt locks on campus by approximately 30 percent to 80 percent. In 2005, there were 30 bicycle thefts on-campus, while in 2013 there have been five incidents thus far.

Hopkins Campus Security has also increased the presence of security personnel around Homewood.

“We have increased the number of uniformed off-duty Baltimore Police and AlliedBarton Security Officers working for the University, which increases deterrence,” Skrodzki said. “The increase of campus officer patrols and the ‘Smart’ CCTV camera system are important elements in Security’s crime prevention strategy. The use of bicycles, club cars and Segways has helped us increase our visibility throughout the campus community and made response times faster.”

Since 2006, the Hopkins Crime Watch program has partnered with the Baltimore Police Department and contains 5,983 members, all of whom have been given a unique seven digit number that they are told to relay when reporting crime.

Some of the other Hopkins Security programs aimed at diminishing thefts committed off-campus include free home security surveys to University affiliates, Safety seminars for Graduate students through the Graduate Affairs Office and weekly crime prevention walks offered by the Neighborhood Walkers on Patrol.

“Crime prevention is a shared responsibility. Students must develop and implement a crime prevention mentality that helps them avoid risks and become less vulnerable if they encounter a criminal,” Skrodzki said.

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