UPD responded to the scene alongside paramedics and members of the San Luis Obispo City Fire Department. | File Photo/Mustang News

Cal Poly University Police Department (UPD) released their annual crime statistics and campus security report Sept. 29.

The report provides statistics from the past three years for crimes on-campus, in the residence halls, on public property immediately surrounding campus and at special locations off-campus that are popular gathering places for students. These special locations are primarily fraternity and sorority houses.

According to the report, there were a total of 36 on-campus crimes committed in 2010 unrelated to drugs, alcohol and weapons violations. This is three times higher than the amount in 2009. Twenty-two of these on-campus crimes took place in the residence halls, compared to only six last year.

UPD chief Bill Watton said the report only includes those statistics required under a federal act nicknamed the “Clery Act.” The numbers reported are based upon the Clery Act guidelines, and due to this, are not comprehensive, he said.

“A complete picture is more Department of Justice (statistics) than Clery,” Watton said. “Now, having said that, our statistics are so low it’s more difficult to see a trend from year to year.”

Noticeable on the report was a rise in on-campus burglaries, with 29 taking place in 2010. This is up from only six during 2009, and is also more than the 23 in 2008. Twenty-one of the burglaries occurred in residence halls on campus.

Watton said the spike resulted from a string of approximately 12 burglaries in residence halls during spring break.

“When we have something like that occur, it makes the statistics really spike,” he said. “But it’s not really indicative (of) any sort of rise in crime.”

Although Watton said there is no indication of an actual increase in crime at Cal Poly, mechanical engineering sophomore and Poly Canyon Village (PCV) resident Hannah Gause said she was still concerned about theft in PCV based on her observations of the way the buildings are set up.

“When I moved into PCV, I knew I didn’t want to be on the first floor because it is so easily accessed by people walking past,” she said. “If they saw something they wanted (while) walking past, and the window was open, it would not be difficult to just remove the screen and take whatever they saw.”

Students such as business administration sophomore and former Yosemite Hall resident Rory Van Wickle, can take basic precautions to prevent any items from being stolen from residence halls.

“In the dorms, for personal, expensive electronics, definitely get laptop locks,” he said. “Lock it down, make sure it’s secure. All last year I had my laptop locked, and if my roommate wasn’t there, we had an agreement that the door would be locked.”

Though Watton said this advice is useful in preventing most residence hall burglaries, he said last year’s burglaries during spring break could not have been prevented by students locking their doors and windows. He would not comment on the details of the case, but said the method of entry the suspects used did not involve the need to bypass a locked door.

The report also lists 23 drug, alcohol and weapons violations on-campus during 2010, 13 of which took place in living communities. This number is significantly lower than the 48 similar crimes during 2009, 20 of which took place in the residential halls.

Animal science junior Heather Lee said although San Luis Obispo is known for being safe, alcohol can create problems with students.

Lee, who was a resident advisor (RA) in Sierra Madre last year, said one of her male residents was walking his female friend home from a party when another intoxicated male attacked them on a public street.

“The next thing I knew, my resident had a bloody face and was beat up,” Lee said. “That was pretty scary.”

Although the report only contained one instance of a sexual offense and robbery, Gause was still concerned about being out at night.

“I take the escort van when I’m walking at night, and that is a really big help,” Gause said. “There could be a lot better lighting on some of the foot paths around campus, especially the path in between Campus Market and PCV. That path is really not lit at night, and that’s really scary.”

Other statistics listed in the report included sex-related crimes.

The one count of sodomy in the annual statistics is not related to the three sexual assaults reported during spring 2011, though.

Additionally, Watton said that it does not accurately reflect all sexual assaults among Cal Poly students.

“We typically have very few sexual assaults reported on campus, typically one to two a year,” he said. “Every single sexual assault is significant. In terms of sexual assaults, we know there are more that occur that don’t get reported.”

Some off-campus crimes were also in the Clery report, based on location in proximity to the school and the mandates of the act.

“Outside of Cal Poly, college students feel like they can do more because there (are) no RAs or school officials watching over them,” soil science sophomore Steven Liu said. “(Crime would) probably be more common off campus where these kinds of things happen.”

Despite RAs’ presence, Lee said, one of the biggest dangers in Sierra Madre is the apathy residents have about propping doors open.

“It wasn’t very safe because people propped doors all the time,” Lee said. “People could just walk in because people didn’t ask who others were in the dorms.”

Lee said there have been times when suspicious individuals entered the residence halls, such as a homeless man entering a building through a propped door in the years before she was an RA.

Watton said that UPD wants to know when someone suspicious has entered a residence hall and encourages students to call in those reports to them.

“The residence halls are locked 24-hours-a-day, but that doesn’t mean people can’t get in who don’t belong,” he said. “We always ask students to let us know if there’s somebody in their residence hall that doesn’t belong there.”

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