UPJ thievery declines over last three years

Ryan Brown, Managing Editor

Campus theft and burglary has dropped significantly over the past three years, according to crime statistics released last week.

The numbers, released in Pitt-Johnstown administrators’ annual security and fire-safety report, show a decline from 40 oncampus thefts in 2008 to 27 in 2010 – a drop of roughly one-third.

Other statistics show burglary cases dropping from seven to one over the same three-year period.

Campus Police Associate Chief Eric Zangaglia attributed the decline largely to student awareness, fostered in part by Housing Offi ce efforts to educate residents.

“Theft is one of the most preventable crimes,” Zangaglia said.

Campus theft cases rarely involve break-ins and almost never require violence. Instead, students often leave valuables in plain sight or neglect to lock their doors, Zangaglia said.

“It’s a crime of opportunity,” he said. “Not everybody in society is honest.”

Students living in communal housing may not think twice about leaving a room door open while visiting a friend down the hall, Zangaglia said, but those short trips leave residents’ valuables open for taking.

Zangaglia said police have received roughly a dozen theft reports this year. Last week, students reported thefts of two laptop computers and a cell phone.

With only a fraction of the academic year completed, this rate could reverse the three-year drop if it continues.

Attempts to solve thefts vary widely from case to case, Zangaglia said. In cases where a closed group was present during the crime, officers can narrow down the list of suspects.

“It all just depends on the investigation,” Zangaglia said.