Irvine is known as a relatively safe city, and this reputation is taken heavily into consideration by prospective students. The city of Irvine is not as large or populous as Los Angeles, so we have fewer fears about our security than students at other major Southern California universities. As a result, many of us think that Irvine is a place where we can feel secure and thrive. However, in letting our guard down because we deem this school “safe,” we have made ourselves more vulnerable to petty crimes.
Before committing to UCI, I frantically researched anything and everything about the school. The only worrisome detail that I stumbled upon was the prevalence of theft. However, I remember not thinking much about it, because UCI is a large campus and I thought I would never see or hear about burglaries around me.
To my surprise, in my first year of freshmen housing, I have already seen many instances of theft in my own hall in Middle Earth.
It is very easy to trust the individuals that we live with and see on a daily basis. As my first quarter progressed, people in my hall began to leave their laptops and other personal items in the common room. This led to various thefts occurring, and suddenly, UCI did not feel quite as safe anymore.
These incidents in my hall, which can only be entered with a keycard, left me with many questions. How did a stranger enter my hall? Did someone let a stranger in? Was the thief even a stranger? If a keycard is needed to enter, then the thefts that typically occurred must have been committed by students themselves. When we think about burglars, we imagine strangers with black ski masks on, when in reality they can be anyone.
Due to the numerous thefts, a housing coordinator set up a hall meeting a few weeks ago. Student residents were given tips on how to create a safer environment for everyone. These pieces of advice were simple things, such as not opening the door to strangers, and not falling into the “bystander effect” of witnessing a crime but not reporting it or doing anything to stop it. If people want to steal, the housing coordinator told us, they might be less likely to do it if they know others are looking out for them.
Recently, UCI students were shocked by images of a theft suspect who had stolen wallets and other items from Langson Library. The Los Angeles Times described the suspect as “Asian, in his 20s, black hair parted on one side, clean-shaven, a thin build and wearing slightly tinted eyeglasses.” Many individuals can fall under this description, which means we must become more aware of our surroundings and any actions we deem unusual.
In addition, according to the website College Factual, UCI has approximately 44 reported theft cases in the past year. While this amount does not seem too worrisome, we must take into account that those are only the cases that have been reported; there could be many more cases than that.
While Irvine still feels like an overall calm environment, it is necessary for all of us to pay close attention to any suspicious activity near us. It is important for us to look out for ourselves by always locking our doors and never leaving our personal items out in the open. If we see something that looks out of place or just strange, we should report it to UCIPD, a resident advisor, or any other qualified staff member. It is easier to apologize for being over dramatic than to risk allowing a crime to be committed. It is much better to be safe than sorry.
Daisy Murguia is a first-year literary journalism major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.