If you read the New University, you are probably used to scanning the weekly crime log. If you read enough of them, you already know to expect at least one that will make you laugh, one that will not sound like a crime at all and one that is actually quite serious. For example, an incident in a past crime log was, “Caller reports a suspicious male wearing a trench coat.” You heard it right. There was a malicious trenchcoat-wearing male who was out to destroy our community by using polyester as his main weaponry. Take cover and be safe my fellow Anteaters.
All jokes aside, such short and succinct descriptions cause one to wonder if these crimes logs are real. Paul Henisey, the chief of police for the UC Irvine Police Department, commented that
“The crime logs are an accurate representation of what occurs,” Henisey said. “Because [serious crimes] are relatively infrequent, you really have to look at the crime logs on an ongoing basis to be able to pick up on some of those incidences because, again, they are so rare.”
Irvine’s reputation for relatively low crime is illustrated in countless ranking systems that have ranked it as one of the top 10 safest cities for several consecutive years. Irvine remained in the top five spots several times, but due to a few occurrences of a more serious nature, such as the double homicides seen in June of last year, the rating has gradually dropped further down the list.
According to MorganQuitno.com, a Web site dedicated to ranking America’s safest and most dangerous cities, Irvine is currently considered the seventh-safest city in America. In Henisey’s opinion, one thing that keeps Irvine such a safe community is the dynamic of the city. I think there is a lot of community involvement. They look out for each other,” Henisey said.
Although UCI is a relatively safe campus, the crimes that occur are often overlooked due to a lack of seriousness. UCIPD frequently responds to property crime, which is one of the leading crimes in Irvine. Categories of property crime include thefts, burglaries and vandalism. According to UCI crime statistics, there were a total of 404 occurrences of motor-vehicle theft and stolen property in 2006. In addition, there were a total of 94 occurrences of vandalism and 87 occurrences of burglaries that same year. This makes a grand total of 585 property crimes in 2006 alone.
This reality hits closer to home when we take into consideration the incident that occurred last January, in which two armed robbers stole unknown items from a dormitory in Mesa Court. A crime in such close proximity leads students to rethink UCI as a purely safe campus.
“Because people think they’re safe, they don’t lock their doors and they don’t lock their windows” Henisey said. And so they’ll leave their apartment, their residential housing unit or their dorm unlocked, unsecured and it makes it very easy for somebody on campus who is looking to steal something to take something from their property.”
This sort of mentality is dangerous because students and residents potentially set themselves up for theft or robbery. No matter how safe a community is, it can never be completely exempt from occurrences of crime. If anything, Irvine is one of the most ideal places to commit a theft. Surrounded by a rich, suburban atmosphere, Irvine is a haven for robbers looking to steal expensive goods. These robbers are at an even greater advantage because many Irvine residents hold the belief that they can never be victims of crime. Therefore, they make unwise decisions when it comes to their property. Unfortunately, sometimes this lesson is not be learned until residents actually become the victims.
In addition to property crimes, other frequent crimes include drug abuse, assaults and DUI. Statistics show that there were 64 instances of drug abuse, 31 occurrences of simple assaults (engaging in a fight with hands, feet, fists, etc.) and 28 occurrences of DUI in 2006.
In order to alleviate the frequency of all these crimes, UCIPD often monitors common places where these crimes typically take place. They also have routine patrols to maintain order and investigate when there is suspicious activity.
Although UCIPD is often seen in a negative light because of its zero-tolerance policies, these policies are enforced in order to prevent more occurrences of crime.
“One of the things that we strive to do here on campus is actually try to build a positive relationship because we know that the safety and security on campus is dependent upon people who work closely with us, who serve as eyes and ears for the police department and who understand that we really are here to help make this a safer environment,” Henisey said.