Although Orange County, in particular the City of Irvine, is generally considered safe areas to live in, the UCI Police Department encourages students to remain aware of their surroundings and be especially on the look out for occurrences of property crimes.
The most recent University of California Police Department Annual Report and Crime Statistics shows that from 2002 to 2003 the number of violent crimes in UCI decreased by 50 percent, whereas the number of property crimes increased by 24 percent.
Property crimes include all types of theft, burglaries and arson. In 2003 alone, 630 cases of property crime occurred at UCI.
‘Theft constitutes the majority of the crimes on campus,’ said Al Brown, UCIPD chief of police.
The most common items stolen are cash, bicycles, computers and other valuable electronics such as PDAs and video game systems.
The UCIPD says the frequency of thefts is highest at the beginning of the year when students are moving into their new dorms and apartments.
The UCIPD advises students to never leave valuable objects in the car and to always have the car doors locked.
It is also useful to write down the serial numbers of electronic devices. In case these objects are stolen, the serial number can help the police recover the device.
Bicycle theft is also a common crime at UCI. In order to prevent bicycle theft and aid in the recovery of stolen bicycles, the police department will set up booths on Ring Road during Welcome Week for students to register their bicycles.
Once the bicycle’s serial number is entered into the State of California’s database, the owner receives a sticker to put on his or her bike. Records show that bicycles with registration stickers do not get stolen as often as bicycles without registration.
Even though statistics show that violent crimes are down on campus, the police department also provides services to protect students against violent crimes such as rape and robbery.
The Safe Escort Program is a division of the police department in which community service officers offer to escort students whenever they feel unsafe to walk alone. CSOs are UCI students who are employed and trained by the police department to help the police ensure the safety of UCI students. The CSOs patrol the campus, especially on-campus construction sites after dark.
Brown says that the CSOs serve a vital role in the UCI community and are an integral part of the department.
‘Community Service Officers are extension eyes and ears of the police department,’ Brown said.
Besides the direct help from CSOs, the UCIPD recommends that students also use their common sense to ensure their own safety on campus.
Students who need to walk from classrooms to dorms and apartments at night should walk on paved and well-lit roads, like Ring Road, instead of cutting across Aldrich Park, a darker area of campus with no emergency phones.
According to 17-year UCIPD veteran Sgt. Steve Monsanto, Aldrich Park is a place to avoid at night.
‘Although there are no solid statistics, [Aldrich Park] is potentially a dangerous place at night,’ Monsanto said.
Many students who currently live on campus feel comfortable walking around campus at night and are not worried about their safety.
Jessica Blanchette, a fourth-year social ecology major, often walks back to her apartment from the KUCI radio station after her radio show.
‘I keep an eye out when I walk home, but I don’t feel particularly unsafe,’ Blanchette said.
In case of emergencies, students should call the UCIPD number (949) 824-5222, which connects them directly to the UCI Police Department. If a student calls 911 from a cell phone, the call will first connect them to the California Highway Patrol, and it will take at least five minutes before the operators can transfer them to UCIPD.
While it is always advisable to remain vigilant, Monsanto reminds students not to stress over their safety on campus.
‘With a little bit of common sense, UCI is a very safe campus,’ Monsanto said.
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