VCU Police awareness campaigns help keep larcenies down
Theft of personal property is the crime most likely to occur on a college campus according to community awareness campaigns by VCU Police. This is certainly true at VCU, where year after year, larceny far outnumbers any other reported crime, even alcohol-related arrests.
However, the number of larcenies reported by the VCU Police Department for 2011 was the lowest it had been since 2008, before the police began reporting figures from more law enforcement agencies than just campus police.
The department’s 2012 Security and Fire Safety Report showed a nearly 30 percent decrease in larcenies between 2010 and 2011 even with the addition of statistics from the Virginia State Police and the Virginia Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control.
Officer Matt Ruland, VCUPD’s community policing officer, said that larceny rates are on the decline because of the proactive efforts of the police department.
“I have seen numbers drop significantly because of campaigning,” Ruland said.
Early this semester, VCU Police initiated their “See Something Shady” larceny prevention campaign to encourage students to report suspicious behavior to the police. The department also produced a commercial featuring VCU men’s basketball coach Shaka Smart asking students to ensure that the basketball was the only thing stolen at VCU (the men’s basketball team led the nation in steals last season).
Soon, police will be starting a holiday messaging campaign reminding students to lock up before going out and to be mindful of the environment. The campaign will also encourage students to notify others when going out of town for the holidays so that someone can keep a close eye on their residence.
Ruland said there are a number of factors that contribute to larceny, but one is that sometimes people just let their guard down.
“We get too comfortable in our environment and setting,” he said.
Ruland also advised students to be mindful of the fact that VCU is an urban campus and carrying valuables such as iPods, phones or laptops in visible sight may lead to unintended consequences and even if somewhere seems secure, students should be aware of valuables.
Though larcenies have been recorded this year in student residence halls, Ruland said that the highest-incident locations are “any open public areas, where there is a large area of people coming and going.”
This includes Cabell Library and the Cary Street Gym. At the gym alone there have been 16 reported larcenies since August. Ruland said that students should be mindful of their surroundings and belongings at all times, even at the gym.
“I ran with my phone and school bag right beside me,” said Ruland, who adds that students should only bring the necessities to workout. If a student does bring an iPod or phone, however, they should keep it on them at all times.