Theft outnumbers other crimes in residence halls

News Editor Kaitlyn Davis

With 13 reported incidents within the fall 2015 and spring 2016 semesters, theft is the most common crime committed in the residence halls.

Most instances of theft are not planned out, said Assistant Director of University Residences Caroline Bowen.

“So, a lot of our theft in the (residence) halls tends to be what we like to say, ‘crime of opportunity,’” she said.

Most theft on campus occurs in the residence halls, since they hold a large number of students’ valuables, said UNA Chief of Police Kevin Gillilan in an email.

“Fortunately, the residence halls have access control and are equipped with state of the art surveillance equipment,” Gillilan said. “This has led to an 87 percent clearance rate of all investigated cases.”

Sophomore Morgan Freeman said she thinks instances of theft are fairly common in the residence halls.

“(My) friend had his Xbox stolen out of his room (in Rivers Hall),” Freeman said.

University Residences and UNA Police work together each time theft is reported, Bowen said.

“(UNA Police) also (does) an investigation from their end, and then from the University (Residences) end, (we try to) get names and figure out who stole that,” she said. “We also help aid in the returning of those items if possible.”

Punishment for thieving ranges from education on respect to suspension depending on the case, said Director of Student Conduct Kim Greenway.

Sophomore Taj Tiggs said he noticed a problem with theft last year when he lived in Olive Hall and Rivers Hall, but it only occurred occasionally.

It is natural for students to want to leave their belongings around their living space, but they need to be realistic about it, Greenway said.

“I think sometimes the reason why (students) leave their things out is, they want to be able to trust the folks in their community which is a natural part of humanity, to say, ‘This is my space, and it’s your space too, and we’re going to respect each other in it,’” Greenway said. “But that’s not always the case, and so unfortunately, people do steal things.

“You don’t want (students) to be cynical about it, but you also want them to have the realistic point of view that not everyone can be trusted.”

Students should not leave items unattended for any length of time, no matter how short, Gillilan said.

“It is also important for students to secure their vehicles and to store valuables out of sight or in a locked room,” Gillilan said.

Students should lock their door each time they leave their room, Bowen said.

To prevent theft and other crimes on campus, students need to “be alert, know your neighbors, community members and UNA police officers (and) watch out for each other,” Gillilan said.

Gillilan said he also encourages students to speak up if they see any suspicious activities.