SIU crime numbers fluctuate

While there were fewer reports of some crimes at SIU in 2010, recently released numbers show a few of those areas, including burglary, forcible sex assault and arson increased in 2011.

The Department of Public Safety at SIU released Monday the Annual Security and Fire Safety report from last year, which compares the number of burglary, arson, aggravated assault, and forcible sexual assaults since 2009. The report shows a varying pattern of crimes over the years, with some increasing and others decreasing in the number of cases.

The report counts reported crimes on and near campus.

DPS reported 73 cases of burglary in 2011. This number is higher than the 46 burglaries reported in 2010 and the 64 reported in 2009.

Other crime number reports from some Illinois universities vary depending on the crime. Burglary crime reports from Northern Illinois University, Eastern Illinois University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign show lower numbers than SIU in 2011. Western Illinois University reported higher numbers.

There were also six forcible sex offenses reported at SIU last year, which was the same as 2009 but three higher than 2010. Of the other Illinois universities, WIU and U of I reported higher numbers with eight and 11 respectively.

DPS reported seven cases of aggravated assault in 2011, which is a one-case decrease from the eight reported in 2010 and five reported 2009. Only U of I reported more cases of aggravated assault in 2011, and EIU reported the same.

Arson cases increased from 2010, when there were zero reported cases, to three in 2011. There were also three reported cases in 2009. U of I reported four cases in 2011 and NIU reported three, while WIU and EIU reported fewer than SIU with one and zero respectively.

John Allen, all-hazards preparedness resource coordinator supervisor, said the rise in some statistics such as burglary is not a surprise to the department. He said many factors contribute to crime rate increases, and the department’s best efforts don’t always provide results.

The best way to prevent crimes is to be informed about them, Allen said. Crimes can be prevented by either removing the criminal or removing the opportunity for a crime, he said.

Allen said there are different ways the department deals with crime on campus, but he declined to comment on the different procedures.

“These guys are highly professional people,” Rod Sievers, university spokesman, said. “They are very good at what they do.”

DPS deals with a different type of work on a college campus than police forces in other areas, university spokesman Rod Sievers said.

One unique case was the bomb threat made to the university Sept. 20, which resulted in around 2,100 students’ evacuation from the Brush Towers. Sievers said DPS handled the situation very well as it worked alongside FBI members. He said this is not the first time campus police have worked with the agency.

Some students said they feel safe on campus despite the threats being made to the university.

Cody Roach, a senior from McHenry studying anthropology, said he feels safe on campus and does not think the bomb threats were a big deal.

“At my high school, we had bomb threats all the time,” he said. “All that meant was we had to go outside for a while.”

Gillian Kinney, a junior from Chicago studying speech communication, said she only feels safe on campus during the day. Kinney said she will not walk alone on campus at night because she does not think it is safe.

She said she thinks it is natural for college campuses to be more dangerous at night.

Kinney said she thinks the bomb threat could have been handled better. She said it seemed like the university did not take the situation as seriously as it should have. Kinney said she thinks campus police should have also evacuated places near the towers such as University Hall.

Sievers said the bomb threat’s investigation is still ongoing.

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