UA officials: FBI crime report flawed

By Ross Hager
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The FBI released a crime report last week that labeled the UA as the No. 1 campus for property theft, but a UA official said the report is misleading.

Paul Allvin, associate vice president of communications, said the UA doesn't actually have the highest property theft of any university, but it looks that way because the ranking was based off schools volunteering information.

"Only about 500 universities volunteer for the FBI crime report," Allvin said, but there are more than 6,000 universities nationwide.

Out of the about 500 universities that released their crime reports, those with 20,000 or fewer students were not listed in the final ranking, Allvin said.

And many of these smaller schools have a higher theft-to-student ratio than the UA does, said Sgt. Eugene Mejia, University of Arizona Police Department spokesman.

If the ranking included schools with 20,000 or fewer students, the UA would be No. 38 instead of No. 1, Allvin said.

The top ranking could also be attributed to UAPD's "meticulous reporting" of crimes, Allvin said.

But an increased number of property crime reports doesn't necessarily mean there are more crimes occurring, Mejia said.

In 2004, university police reported 688 crimes of theft on campus and in residence halls, down from 717 the year before. Many of these crimes involved students not keeping an eye on their personal items, Mejia said.

"There is a simple rule," Mejia said. "Keep your personal possessions with you."

Of the reported thefts, the Student Union Memorial Center had the highest number with 54, and the UA Main Library had 48 reported thefts, Mejia said.

Of all the residence halls on campus, Coronado Residence Hall had the highest number property crimes with 24 reported thefts.

One of the biggest property crimes on campus is bike theft, Mejia said, and the department has taken proactive measures to help prevent it by helping students register their bikes and teaming up with Master Lock to sell U-Locks to students.

Although he feels the measures are helping, Mejia said he is still troubled by the UA's ranking and feels the surrounding Tucson area plays a role in crime on campus.

"We directly reflect crimes in the city, except violent crime," Mejia said. "I think students feel pretty safe around campus."