New statistics show that Yale is getting safer, but still not safe enough to leave the dorm room door unlocked.
Overall crime on campus has declined 12 percent from 2000 to 2001, according to newly released Yale Police Department statistics. But police said that in some cases students still have work to do if the University is to reach optimum security levels.
Over the past few years, Yale has stepped up its residential college security. Electronic keycard locks have replaced traditional door locks, making it harder for intruders to break in to dorm rooms. Also, the University has advocated the Security Tracking of Office Property program for laptop registration, which serves as a deterrent to would-be computer thieves.
But Yale police say students often act in a manner that defeats the safety measures that Yale provides at substantial cost.
“In some cases, [students] prop open doors, tape locks open, and let suspicious-looking people into their colleges when they shouldn’t be there,” Yale Police Lt. Michael Patten said. “It often defeats the purpose of the original security.”
He added that students have the ability to ameliorate the campus crime situation and said he thinks they often do an adequate job of prevention.
The safety of laptops and bicycles, however, is another story entirely.
Police said that although crime as a whole has gone down, they are still seeing an appreciable number of stolen laptops and bicycles. These items can be easily secured, but a great many Yalies simply neglect to do so, police said.
Walter Northrop, the Yale Police administrative services coordinator, said it is often a simple matter to keep valuable items such as these from being pilfered. He said relatively inexpensive U-locks are the best way to secure a bicycle. Bikes fastened with a cable lock are the types of bikes stolen the most frequently, he said.
Northrop lamented that many Yalies have apparently failed to catch on to this basic security fact.
“It’s amazing why people have a $300 bicycle but don’t spring for a $15 lock,” Northrop said.
He added that in many cases, students are similarly neglectful of their laptop computers, often leaving them unprotected on their desks. A rash of laptop thefts in early 2001 is partially responsible for the 55 percent increase — from 45 reported incidents in 2000 to 70 in 2001 — of burglaries on campus.
One man who gained access to dorm rooms by, in some cases, posing as a friend of the person who lived in a given room, stole nine laptop computers, police said. About five incidents that closely resembled these computer thefts were also reported, but police were not able to gather any physical evidence to implicate the same thief.
In addition, areas of Yale under construction often provide thieves with easy access to tools and raw materials. When these are stolen, they are recorded as burglaries.
But over the last five years, police said the prevailing trend has been a decrease in the overall number of reported crimes and offered Yalies advice on how to keep the crime rate low.
“Follow your intuition,” Patten said. “If there’s something suspicious going on, report it. If there’s somebody who doesn’t look like they should be someplace, report it. If you think there’s something wrong, there probably is.”