Breaks are high time for crime on campus

Casey Purcella / Graphic Designer

According to City-Data.com, the Columbia crime rate is lower than the average United States city. But crime does occur.

From Columbia Police Department and MU Police Department crime reports, this is a comprehensive crime map of MU and the city of Columbia. All listed crimes listed took place between Aug. 21 and Sept. 21.

Side info. for map: Word count: 444

Beginning Nov. 19, many MU students will be heading home for Thanksgiving break, leaving behind their off-campus apartments and houses. During the break, items inside those homes are in danger.

“Burglaries are always a concern,” Columbia Police Department spokeswoman Latisha Stroer said. “The main times for these crimes are Christmas break, spring break, whenever people are not going to be home for a long period of time.”

According to the Missouri Uniform Crime Reporting Program, in 2010, $985,634 worth of goods were stolen in 552 burglaries in the city of Columbia.

There were also 3,129 larcenies and thefts worth $1,915,626. Cars are not necessarily safe, either. Last year, there were 135 motor vehicle thefts, or grand theft auto, totaling $848,858.

“By far, the most common crime (in Columbia) is larceny,” MU Police Department Capt. Brian Weimer said. “The best way to reduce that is to not leave your stuff lying around, lock your bikes, your doors, your cars and just in general secure your property.”

Residents can also take a few extra precautions if they think locks will not be enough to protect their valuables and they are unable to take them home.

Stroer said students should also write down serial numbers for their belongings. There are additional steps to keeping their belongings safe.

“Get to know your neighbors and have them watch over your place,” Stroer said. “You can call the police and have them do a watch-in-passing, where they’ll drive by and check things out for you. Stop your mail so it doesn’t pile up outside.”

Students looking at off-campus housing should look out for higher crime areas, Stroer said.

“I wouldn’t recommend Quail or Whitegate to students,” she said. “They are just high crime areas. They have assaults, robberies, drug abuse and shootings in those areas. If I were a parent and I had a child going to school (at MU), I wouldn’t want them living in those areas.”

For students living in the residence halls, it can be much easier to stay safe on campus. Residential Life has many systems in place to protect students from anything ranging from robberies to potential shootings.

“Our biggest thing is education about several things," Schurz Hall Peer Advisor Evan Arnold said. "For our Mocktails, our floors had a preventing sexual violence theme. We’ll bring in RSVP Center people to educate them.”

In spite of the protections in the halls and around MU, crime still happens. On campus last year, there were 308 thefts worth a total of $213,801 and at least three cars were stolen.

“We encourage people to make sure their doors are locked," Arnold said. "We have had issues where people wandered in. We really can’t prevent that, because it’s a choice by the residents. If residents do choose to use magnets or prop their doors open, they may damage them and pay for them later in the year.”

MUPD offers several crime prevention classes, including defense classes that are free for females. Students can also register their laptops and bicycles with MUPD.

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