Property theft up over last year
By David A. Maltz
Theft of Institute property in 1990 went up by 90 percent from the 1989 figure, according to the recently released MIT Campus Police Annual Report. The number of serious crimes against persons remained steady.
The Institute lost $321,497 in equipment to theft in 1990, up from $169,274 in 1989. Thefts from residence halls totaled $29,925, an increase of 45 percent over 1989, ending what Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin termed a three year downward trend.
Asked about the increase in dormitory theft, Glavin commented that complacency may have played a role. "The dormitory theft rate is like a roller coaster, but after the decrease in the past three years, people may be a bit too complacent about leaving their rooms open," Glavin said.
Glavin classified the majority of residence hall larcenies as "open and unattended," meaning that the thefts occurred from rooms left unlocked while the owners were elsewhere.
For the second year in a row, Burton House was the dormitory with the highest number of reported thefts. Out of all residences reporting to Campus Police, Burton reported 23 thefts. MacGregor reported 15, while New House had 10. Most other residences reported less than six.
Burton House Master Julian Beinart said that Burton is "susceptible to crime in that we're an attractive dorm with lots to steal."
Asked if perhaps the dormitory's arrangement of private rooms in common suites might aid a thief's access, Beinart responded that suites actually discourage larceny "in that there are many people around."
Trudy Morris, the Burton house manager, had no comment when asked about crime prevention measures in the dormitory.
Both Glavin and Beinart agreed that some thefts were probably committed by MIT community members and some were committed by outside thieves, both professional and amateur.
Computers made up the vast majority of equipment stolen from the Institute. Most of the thefts were IBMs or Apple Macintoshes taken from private offices, according to Glavin.
The most expensive item stolen during 1990 was a copper coil valued at $55,500 taken from the Plasma Fusion Center in March.
The number of bicycle thefts went down by 27 percent from 148 in 1989 to 109 in 1990. The majority of bicycles reported missing had been left near the Julius A. Stratton '23 Student Center. According to Glavin, the lowest theft rate was from the Building 13 bike compound which is accessible only with keys purchased from the Campus Police for five dollars. "Although [the Building 13 compound] is not exempt from theft, it does have a lower theft rate than other areas"
Crimes against persons
The number of serious crimes committed against people on MIT grounds held roughly steady at 23 incidents. This number does not include crimes committed against MIT community members in areas adjacent to MIT such as Memorial Drive. The number of muggings and robberies on campus increased from none in 1989 to 4 in 1990. Meanwhile, the number of assault and battery incidents dropped from 14 to 10.
There were 17 cases of harassment reported to Campus Police in 1990, down from 21 in 1989. Two acquaintance rapes were reported to the Campus Police, one in a campus living group, which was reported last fall, and the other in a Boston fraternity in December. In both cases, no charges were filed against the accused. This figure was up one from 1989.
MIT officers made 119 arrests on campus for crimes ranging in severity from trespassing to robbery, resulting in 60 convictions.
Crime prevention measures
on the increase
As an effort to combat the crime rate at MIT, the Campus Police Crime Prevention Unit has been enlarged over the past three years to include a sergeant, a full time patrol officer, and three officers who work the unit on a rotating basis.
A major focus of the Crime Prevention Unit this year was the distribution of Freshmen Packets. Given to all freshmen and new transfer students, the packets contained flyers and brochures with information on issues such as theft prevention and reporting rape. According to Glavin, approximately 95 percent of the packets make it to the students.
On April 22, the unit will be starting a new program aimed at increasing the distribution of information among the departments and residence halls. One person from each department, lab, and dormitory will be selected to act as a contact person with Campus Police and would receive information about crimes committed on campus. These people will also act as references to help community members contact the Campus Police about services they might need.