Crime falls in 2008

Crime on and around Yale’s campus decreased significantly last year from its 2007 levels, according to data compiled by the University’s Office of the Secretary.

The number of burglaries, larcenies and motor-vehicle thefts in the Yale Police Department’s primary area of jurisdiction — which includes all University property and its affiliates — all decreased in 2008. While the number of rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults on campus have each increased, the number is so small — less than three each — that Deputy University Secretary Martha Highsmith said the increases were not meaningful. Highsmith attributed the overall decrease in crime to the “excellent” efforts of the Yale Police Department and Yale Security.

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“This kind of record of crime reduction is unheard of,” she said.

The number of burglaries on campus in 2008 was lower than any year since 2000. The number of burglaries on campus last year decreased 54 percent, from 120 in 2007 to 55 burglaries in 2008.

The decrease in burglaries is even more significant when considering just the residential colleges, where the number of burglaries decreased 71 percent from 59 in 2007 to 17 in 2008. The residential colleges endured a large string of robberies in summer and fall 2007, which prompted a series of new security measures. In January 2008 each residential college was assigned a Yale Security officer, one for every two colleges, who patrol the colleges every evening.

In October 2007, Council of Masters Chair and Master of Silliman College Judith Krauss told the News, “I’m sorry it took this increase in crime to make students aware, but more students are definitely more conscious now.”

A poll conducted by the News in October 2007 showed a quarter of students had changed their habits because of the increase in burglaries. Even with the recent drop in crime, Krauss said this week that students need to remain vigilant and continue to lock their doors.

“If we do lower our guard,” she said, “sooner or later we’ll see an increase.”

Jordan Sharpe ’11 said she would not change her behavior because the crime rate is down.

“I am still going to take precautions to protect myself,” she said.

In addition to burglaries, the number of larcenies (which, unlike burglaries, do not involve trespassing) on campus also decreased from 299 in 2007 to 231 last year. Bike thefts on campus fell 48 percent to 59 incidents last year.

Highsmith credited the reduction in crime to the work of the YPD.

“The work that the police are doing is really incredible,” she said.

Police and security supervisors are now spending more time on the streets and less time in the office, Highsmith said, which has allowed the police to add more patrols. For instance, she said, after a string of burglaries near East Rock in the early fall, the YPD added a driving patrol at night to the neighborhood. In the three months before the patrol was added Oct. 9, Highsmith noted, there were 86 incidents in the district; in the three months after, there were 38 incidents.

Highsmith said the YPD plans to watch crime rates carefully because of the economy. In New Haven, the crime rate for the second half of the year (when the economy got worse) was higher than the first half of the year.

In response to the reduction of crime, YPD spokesman Lt. Steven Woznyk said, “We will continue efforts to reduce and prevent crimes against persons, in partnership with the New Haven Police, as well as work to sustain efforts thus far.”

Although the area patrolled by Yale police saw a decrease in burglaries and larcenies in 2008, the trend was not the same in New Haven as a whole. According to numbers released last month by the New Haven Police Department, the number of burglaries and larcenies each increased by 10 percent for 2008.

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