Crime at SIUC declined in 2001, Carbondale murder rate up

By Gus Bode

Carbondale murder rate up

Crime on the SIUC campus declined in 2001, according to the 2001 Crime Report issued by the Illinois State Police, but the crime rate remained stable in Carbondale.

The report, released on June 30, tracks nine “index” crimes:murder, robbery, burglary, theft, arson, motor vehicle theft, aggravated assault/battery and criminal sexual assault. Law enforcement agencies throughout the state contribute information to the State Police, which then puts together the report.


The report showed the largest decline was in burglaries, which went from 70 in 2000 to 50 in 2001. Theft, which SIUC Police Lt. Todd Sigler said is the biggest problem on campus, declined from 311 in 2000 to 297 in 2001. He said while he is pleased to see the drop in crime, there are many factors that can affect increases and decreases in reporting of crimes.

“We take statistics with a degree of caution,” Sigler said, “but we do look at them every month.”

He said they look for general trends and for aberrant increases and decreases.

Tom Castellano, director of the administration of justice program, said the changes from 2000 to 2001 are miniscule. He said that nationwide from 1992 to 2000, violent crimes have been in a long-term decline. Crime at the local and state levels became more variable from one locale to another as the economy declined and jobs were lost.

An increase in the figures of a particular crime does not necessarily mean that crimes are actually up, Sigler said. It could mean that more victims have reported crimes, which gives the impression that there is greater crime. Increases in the reporting of crimes may actually be the result of greater confidence in the police or other agencies such as domestic violence counselors, Sigler said.

The report is more mixed on crime in Carbondale. Carbondale Police Chief R.T. Finney said the index crimes have been pretty stable. Criminal sexual assault declined from 33 in 2000 to 23 in 2001. Aggravated assault and battery declined from 140 in 2000 to 122 in 2001. But reports of burglaries increased from 253 in 2000 to 298 in 2001.

The report also showed an increase in murder from zero in 2000 to five in 2001. While it is hard to prevent many of these crimes, Finney said that when there is an increase in a particular crime such as murder that the police can look at the larger picture in an attempt to eliminate the environment that may be a cause. For example, there were some alleged drug connections with four of the five 2001 murders, so police concentrated their efforts on reducing drug crimes overall.


Castellano said it is important to look at the larger social context in determining the significance of statistical reports. From about 1973 to 1992, police reports indicated that crime was up, but victim surveys did not support this.

Sigler said while the statistics show a decline in crime on campus, it is important to remember that SIUC is an open campus with a transient population and that students need to be aware of their surroundings and practice common sense.

Reporter Phil Beckman can be reached at [email protected]