Reports of violent, property crime increase at UT-Austin

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Violent crime and property crime on campus increased last year, according to data released last week by the FBI.

Compared to 13 violent crimes in 2016, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report shows 15 violent crimes occurred on campus in 2017. These 15 counts included one count of homicide, six counts of rape, three counts of robbery and five counts of aggravated assault. 

The number of property crimes also increased from 337 in 2016 to 380 in 2017. The 380 counts included 17 counts of burglary, 355 counts of petty theft and eight motor vehicle thefts.

UT Police Chief David Carter said the increase is due to more students reporting crimes.

“We see some of the increase as not necessarily a negative thing because people are actually sharing information,” Carter said. “Police officers are receiving the reports where we might not have received them in the past.”

Carter said the majority of property crime involved more bicycle thefts, while the majority of the violent crime involved interpersonal violence and violence between people under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

“Obviously, getting your laptop stolen is aggravating … but the thing that we’re mainly concerned about is the issue of violent crime,” Carter said. “The increases are not dramatic, but one violent crime against a person is one too many.”

Corporate communications senior Ellie Butler said she feels that she has witnessed more crime last year than in previous years and generally does not feel safe on campus.  

“In my few years at UT, my feelings of safety have crumbled because of the violent events that have transpired,” Butler said. “There needs to be more of an honest attempt to keep students safe by enacting security measures that truly increase safety.”

Carter said while UT is safe compared to other universities, UTPD is working on improving student concerns about the perception of safety on campus.

“People will hear about an incident and then they believe that’s reflective of how things are all the time,” Carter said. “Our community needs to express those concerns back to us so that we can work on the perception safety issue.”

Psychology junior Kaleigh Simental said she feels safe on campus, especially after improvements in lighting and increased UTPD patrols, but there is still room for improvement. 

“I am still scared of violent and property crimes because I know that they could happen to me,” Simental said. “UTPD does a good job of doing what they can to protect us, but I feel like they just fall a little short sometimes.”

Carter said to help students feel safer, UTPD is working on making police more approachable around campus and continuing their outreach and engagement with the community. 

“We want people to be comfortable reporting crimes to us,” Carter said. “If the police have a better relationship with the communities they serve, we’re more likely to receive information.”