CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The incidence of aggravated assaults and batteries increased while the number of robberies and criminal sexual assaults declined from Sept. 1, 2008, to May 17, 2009, in the University of Illinois district, according to the latest crime statistics released by the Division of Public Safety.
The number of aggravated assaults and batteries increased by 50 percent during the reporting period, from 16 in the previous year to 24 this year. Thirty-one aggravated assaults and batteries were reported during the September 2006 to May 2007 reporting period.
Robberies decreased by almost 25 percent, with 22 reported compared with 29 during the same period the previous year. Thirty-nine robberies were reported for the September 2006 to May 2007 reporting period.
Criminal sexual assaults decreased from 20 incidents to 15. The number of public indecency and Peeping Tom cases decreased from nine incidents the previous year to three this year.
One attempted homicide was reported during the reporting period. On April 23, a gun was fired in the 200 block of East Clark Street in Champaign following an argument. "It's imperative that members of our community adhere to good safety practices to help reduce crime," said U. of I. Police Chief Barbara R. O'Connor, who also is the executive director of public safety.
To improve awareness of crime on campus, O'Connor said the U. of I. police department would continue its practice of sending text messages and broadcast e-mail alerts when significant crimes occur.
"That aligns us with best practices in the country for crime prevention," O'Connor said.
The majority of the criminal sexual assaults as well as the majority of the aggravated assaults and batteries and robberies occurred in the district's northwest quadrant and not on UI property. The northwest quadrant of the university reporting district is an area roughly bounded by University Avenue on the north, Chalmers Street and Gregory Drive on the south, Wright Street on the east and the railroad tracks east of Neil Street on the west.
Consistent with data from the previous two years' September-to-June reporting periods, the majority of the aggravated assaults and batteries, criminal sexual assaults and robberies occurred on Saturday nights and early Sunday mornings between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Alcohol use by victims, suspects or both also was a factor in many of the aggravated assaults and batteries and criminal sexual assaults; however, slightly fewer victims had been consuming alcohol than during the prior two years. Most of the crimes perpetrated on U. of I. students were by strangers.
As always, police urge people to exercise good safety practices, particularly drinking responsibly, as drinking too much 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. "Taking away the opportunity for crimes to be committed is the key to not becoming a victim," O'Connor said.
"Everyone is part of our community policing efforts, and we encourage people to report suspicious behavior and to contact us with any concerns to assist in our joint problem-solving efforts," she said.
Students also are encouraged to take buses or call SafeRides (265-7433) between 5 p.m. and 6:15 a.m.
The U. of I. crime report includes incidents that occurred in an area extending from University Avenue on the north to St. Mary's 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.
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