A man and his girlfriend used to walk into the George Sherman Union with a backpack and a baby carriage. When they left, the backpack and carriage were full, but a baby and schoolbooks were nowhere to be found – and neither were several students’ laptops, wallets and valuables, police said.
Boston University’s overall crime is down, but burglary remains a problem, according to BU Police Department’s BU Campus Crime Statistics document, which was released as part of the Annual Security Report on Monday.
‘Criminals go where the shopping is best,’ BUPD Sgt. Jack St. Hilaire said. ‘Even though we reduced it . . . it’s still our number one issue.’
After making several arrests, St. Hilaire said BUPD saw a ‘sharp decrease’ in burglary. Based on those arrests, he said only a few individuals are committing the majority of campus crime.
The report cites 62 on-campus thefts for 2007, which is down from 117 in 2006, but off-campus burglaries saw an increase, with 4 in 2006 and 14 in 2007.
The average campus criminal lives two to three miles outside the BU community and only commits crime on a small percentage of BU property, St. Hilaire said. Most burglaries happen during class hours on weekdays, and BUPD gets one to two reported thefts each day. Seven have been reported this week so far.
‘The people that we’ve arrested, they’re very crafty,’ he said. ‘They blend right in.’
Although most thefts occur between the Arthur G.B. Metcalf Center for Science and Engineering and the College of Fine Arts, most laptops, a hot product among thieves, are stolen in CFA and Mugar Memorial Library, St. Hilaire said.
This year, laptop theft has significantly increased with 28 laptop thefts so far in 2008, compared with only seven last year, he said. $3,000 dollars worth of laptops were reported stolen this week.
St. Hilaire said students are able to prevent theft.
‘Secure your stuff,’ he said. ‘Use your judgment . . . Eliminate the opportunity.’
St. Hilaire also recommended using proper judgment and reporting suspicious activities or unsafe conditions, such as doors that do not lock properly, which is an issue on Bay State Road.
Other common burglaries include bicycle thefts and car break-ins in which Global Positioning Systems are stolen, St. Hilaire said. The most common area for bicycle thefts is the GSU.
Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences freshman Gretchen Proulx said she always makes sure she has all her belongings with her to avoid being a victim.
‘It’s easy to get your stuff stolen if you’re not careful,’ she said. ‘My music instructor, a graduate student, had his laptop stolen one time.’
School of Education sophomore Mayuri Prasad said even though she knows theft happens, she does not worry about it happening to her.
‘I feel like it’s pretty safe,’ she said. ‘Sometimes in the study lounges, if there are a lot of people there, I leave my stuff there and leave.”
A person’s background also matters, students said. College of Arts and Sciences sophomore Edyna Tapia said people who come from suburbs do not perceive burglary as a threat and consequently do not take care of their belongings, including laptops.
‘Don’t leave it anywhere,’ she said. ‘Don’t leave it in areas like libraries. If you’re with a friend, ask them to look after your stuff.’
Staff writer Borana Greku contributed reporting to this article.