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Aggravated assaults, batteries down; robberies up, U. of I. crime data show

Sharita Forrest, News Editor
217-244-1072; slforres@staff.uiuc.edu

10/5/2006

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Aggravated assaults and batteries in the University of Illinois reporting district declined during the 2005-2006 academic year to the lowest number since the 1999-2000 academic year, according to the annual crime report released by the Division of Public Safety.

During the period Sept. 1, 2005, to Aug. 31, 2006, aggravated assaults and batteries decreased 35 percent to 93 incidents from 142 during the same period the previous year.

During prior years, the numbers of aggravated assaults and batteries were 111 (AY03-04), 116 (AY02-03), 112 (AY01-02), 113 (AY00-01) and 81 (AY99-00).

Of the 128 victims of assaults and batteries, the majority (106) were males age 29 or younger. Usage of drugs and/or alcohol by the victim and or the suspect was a factor in 69 percent of the crimes.

Police increased patrols and women were advised to take extra precautions after two women were attacked on Feb. 27 and March 2 in the Orchard Downs housing complex in Urbana. On March 3, UI police arrested a suspect, Jermaine D. Dixon of Champaign, who was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison on May 31.

Additionally, reported criminal sexual assaults during AY05-06 declined to the lowest number in several years, decreasing by 24 percent, from 25 to 19. That was a significant decrease from AY03-04, when 30 criminal sexual assaults were reported. During prior years, the numbers of criminal sexual assaults were 21 (AY02-03), 22 (AY01-02) and 18 (AY00-01).

However, robberies continued on an upward trend during the AY05-06 reporting period, increasing to 55 from 53 during AY04-05, and 49 in AY03-04. During AY02-03, 37 robberies occurred, 41 occurred during AY01-02 and 34 during AY00-01.

Consistent with prior years, during AY05-06 the majority (39) of robbery victims were U. of I. students, followed by community residents (19).

Reports of peeping toms and public indecency also increased slightly during AY05-06, to 14 from 12 during AY04-05, but that was less than AY03-04, when 18 crimes were reported.

In addition, one attempted homicide occurred in the reporting district during the Sept. 1, 2005 – Aug. 31, 2006, period, when, on Jan. 22, a man was stabbed outside a Champaign restaurant.

The most recent prior homicide in the campus area occurred in October 1998, when a man was shot and killed at a fraternity party in Champaign.

Consistent with prior years, crimes were concentrated in areas adjacent to the university campus, rather than on U. of I. grounds, particularly in the northwest quadrant, an area roughly bounded by University Avenue on the north, Gregory Drive on the south, and Wright Street on the east and the railroad tracks just east of Neil Street on the west.

“Our annual statistics demonstrate that we must recognize that the campus environment is not a safe haven from criminal activity,” said Jeff Christensen, assistant chief of police. “The support from the community as a whole in understanding and utilizing crime-prevention-based practices in their day-to-day routines and reporting suspicious behavior helps immensely. Additionally, the healthy and long established cooperative relationship we hold with neighboring law-enforcement agencies is an asset for our community.”

As always, police urge people to exercise good safety practices, particularly drinking responsibly, as over-consumption of alcohol increases the likelihood of becoming involved in a crime.

Pedestrians are encouraged to walk with other people, to be alert to their surroundings and, if they have cell phones, to keep them out and call 911 if they notice a suspicious person or suspicious activity.

People also are encouraged to take buses or call SafeRides (265-7433) between the hours of 5 p.m. and 6:15 a.m.

“Addressing crime issues involves not only the police but the citizens of the community,” said Krystal Fitzpatrick, chief of police. “Our officers spend a great deal of time educating students and campus community members about crime issues in the Campustown area and helping them develop good safety habits. While I am pleased to see that our aggravated assaults and battery numbers have declined, we realize keeping the numbers low is a challenge. Our community-based policing efforts have helped establish strong partnerships and enable us to work with our citizens.”

The U. of I. crime report includes incidents that occurred in an 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.

The crime statistics for the U. of I. district are reported three times annually and in new-student orientations and campus crime prevention programs.