CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Aggravated assaults and batteries increased by about 28 percent in the University of Illinois reporting district during the Sept. 1, 2004 to Aug. 31, 2005, reporting period, according to statistics released this week by the University of Illinois Division of Public Safety.
One hundred forty-two aggravated assaults and batteries were reported during the period, up from 111 during 2003-2004 and 116 during the same period two years ago.
Of the 189 victims, 158 were men between the ages of 18 and 29, the majority of whom were attacked by strangers. The number of U. of I. students attacked - 75 - was nearly equal the number of community residents victimized - 76. In nearly all of the crimes, the victim, the suspect, or both, had been using alcohol or drugs.
Late-night and early-morning hours on weekends tended to be the peak periods for crime, as the majority of aggravated assaults and batteries occurred on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Robberies were up slightly, increasing to 53 from 49 during the same period in 2003-2004. During same period two years ago, 37 robberies occurred.
The number of criminal sexual assaults decreased by 17 percent, from 30 to 25; that was slightly higher than the 2002-2003 period, when 21 criminal sexual assaults were reported.
Incidents of peeping toms and public indecency were down as well, from 18 to 12; 19 were reported during 2002-2003.
The greatest concentration of crimes occurred 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, Wright Street on the east and the railroad tracks just east of Neil Street on the west.
Good safety practices could help people avoid becoming potential victims, said Krystal Fitzpatrick, assistant campus police chief. People should be aware of their surroundings at all times and refrain from behaviors that might make them easy targets, such as consuming too much alcohol or wearing earphones that might prevent them from hearing someone's approach.
"Criminals are going to pick the people that they think will make the easiest victims, regardless of their sex," Fitzpatrick said. "Men as well as women should avoid walking alone at night and stay away from isolated, poorly lit areas. Riding the bus or using Safe Rides and calling police to report suspicious people or activity could help people reduce their risk."
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 in new-student orientations and campus crime-prevention programs.