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Property thefts went up in 1989

By Niraj S. Desai

Thefts of personal property on campus increased substantially in 1989, according to the just-released annual report of the MIT Campus Police Department. A total of 346 such thefts were reported last year, compared to 229 in 1988. The dollar value of stolen items rose from $38,007 to $71,132 -- an 87.2 percent increase.

At the same time, the number of thefts of Institute-owned property rose only slightly, with the value of the stolen merchandise dropping sharply. Last year, 143 incidents of theft resulted in dollar losses of $169,274. In 1988, 135 thefts totaled $354,587 in losses. Computers and computer components were the MIT-owned items most frequently stolen in both years.

Most of the personal property thefts occurred in non-residence Institute buildings. The number of thefts reported was 277 with a total value of $52,105. Wallets and pocketbooks were the most commonly stolen types of property.

Personal property thefts from residence halls totaled 69 with a value of $19,027. Burton House and MacGregor Hall, each of which reported eight incidents, experienced the most thefts. The residence hall thefts mostly involved the taking of wallets, cash, and audio equipment.

Forty-one motor vehicles were stolen from the MIT campus in 1989, compared to 30 last year.

The number of bicycle thefts shot dramatically upward to 148, an increase of 68.2 percent over 1988.

Suspicious person checks

reach record high

Checks of suspicious persons on the MIT campus reached a record-high level of 390 last year, according to the Campus Police report. In 1988, 308 persons were stopped by the police for suspicious behavior. By contrast, only 149 persons were stopped in 1987.

"Routine checks of suspicious persons are conducted when requested by members of the community or when initiated by an officer during the course of routine patrol activity," the report said.

Of the 390 persons stopped last year, 220 were given trespass warnings, 52 were student problems, 12 were psychiatric cases, and 106 checked out okay.

Whites accounted for 52.1 percent (203) of those stopped by Campus Police, blacks for 36.7 percent (143), and Asians for 4.4 percent (17). The race of 6.9 percent (27) of the suspicious persons was unknown. In 1988, 56 percent of those stopped were white, 29 percent black, and 15 percent unknown.

Eight-nine arrests were made by Campus Police officers last year, up from 76 arrests in 1988. Trespassing was the most common charge.

Continuing a trend present last year, the racial distribution of arrested persons changed significantly. The number of blacks arrested rose 34 percent (from 38 to 51), while the number of whites arrested dropped 8.6 percent (from 35 to 32). In 1987, 50 whites and 21 blacks were among the 81 persons arrested.

Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin, asked last year to comment on the shift in racial distribution, dismissed it as simply a yearly fluctuation. She said that the racial breakdown of suspicious person checks showed that the Campus Police "don't go looking for one race or another."

Serious crimes number 22

The number of serious crimes against persons reported on the MIT campus in 1989 was 22, similar to last year's figure of 23. Of these 22 crimes, the most serious was assault with intent to murder. That incident, which occurred on Sept. 30, involved an altercation between non-MIT persons in the parking lot behind Kresge Auditorium after they were refused admittance to an MIT dance.

The other serious crimes included one assault, 14 cases of assault and battery, three cases of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and two cases of assault and battery on a police officer. Also, a female student was raped in a living group by a visiting acquaintance in September 1989.

The number of other crimes against persons was 189, according to the CP report, up from 1988's total of 149. Obscene and annoying phone calls accounted for 81 of last year's crimes, compared to 54 in 1988, and 31 in 1987. Glavin last year expressed concern about the increase in harassing phone calls. She noted that educational efforts could have increased the rate of reporting of these calls, but added that the trend "points to some general problems" on campus.

Also included in the other crimes against persons category were malicious destruction of property (37 cases), harassment (21), vandalism (19), disturbance (9), domestic disturbance (8), threats (5), sexual harassment (4), disorderly conduct (2), and indecent exposure (1).