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Robberies, sex offenses increased on U. of I. campus during academic year

Sharita Forrest, News Editor


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Robberies and sex offenses were up significantly in the University of Illinois reporting district from Sept. 1, 2003 through May 16, 2004, according to statistics released this week by the University of Illinois Division of Public Safety.

Thirty-four robberies were reported during the period, an increase of 41 percent over the same period during 2002-2003.

There were 22 criminal sexual assaults during the reporting period, an increase of four over the prior reporting period. During the 2001-2002 period, 16 criminal sexual assaults occurred.

Incidents of peeping toms and public indecency also increased. There were 16 reported occurrences during the reporting period, compared with 11 in the equivalent period in 2002-2003.

However, aggravated assaults and batteries declined more than 15 percent during the period, to 85 from 99 in 2002-2003. The most recent figures also showed a slight decline from the same period in 2001-2002, when 88 aggravated assaults and batteries occurred.

Consistent with prior years, most of the crime occurred in areas adjacent to the campus, not on university grounds. An area of particular concern is the northwest quadrant, an area roughly bounded by University Avenue on the north, Gregory Drive on the south, Wright Street on the east and the railroad tracks just east of Neil Street on the west.

The majority of the robbery victims were male students between the ages of 18 and 29; however, nearly as many community residents, 42, versus students, 55, were victimized in aggravated assaults and batteries.

Substance abuse appears to have played a substantial role in many of the violent crimes that occurred, although this also is consistent with prior periods’ statistics.

Twenty-one of the 23 victims and15 of the suspects involved in the criminal sexual assaults had been using alcohol, drugs or both prior to the crimes, as had 91 percent of the victims and suspects involved in the aggravated assaults and batteries.

Near the beginning of the reporting period, the cities of Champaign and Urbana also passed ordinances extending bar hours.

Crime peaked during the late-night and early-morning hours. Nearly all of the criminal sexual assaults happened between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., as did the robberies and aggravated assaults and batteries.

“The types of crimes reported in this release reflect the importance of developing and maintaining a safe lifestyle,” said Krystal Fitzpatrick, assistant chief of the U. of I. Police Department. “I am convinced that the number of aggravated assaults and batteries would decrease significantly if more individuals who choose to drink would do so in a more responsible manner. It is not unusual to read a police report that indicates that the victim is unable to even identify their assailant as a result of their own intoxication level. When under the influence of too much alcohol, individuals tend to get involved in risk-taking behavior where they engage in activities that they normally wouldn’t. These activities can start out as mere name-calling or confrontations with other people that result in serious injury as well as arrest. Reducing these types of crimes involves more than just police presence: It means taking responsibility for your own safety and behavior.”

The university crime report includes incidents that occurred in the area extending from University Avenue on the north to Windsor Road on the south, Race Street on the east and the railroad tracks just east of Neil Street on the west.

Statistics on crime on the University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign campus have been kept and publicly reported since 1995. The crime statistics are reported three times annually and during new-student orientations and campus crime prevention programs.