Bulglaries at NIU jump in 2004

By Sarah J. Augustinas

Burglary is on the rise at NIU, according to a recently-released report from the NIU Department of Public Safety.

The 2004 crime statistics, which included reports from both on and off campus, showed a nearly 50-percent increase in burglary.

Last year, 60 burglary cases were reported, while only 39 incidences were recorded during 2003.

“There are lots of things that go into a crime [level] increase or decrease,” said Donald Grady, the University Police Chief.

Grady explained that to understand any change in a crime rate, the amount of cases must be considered.

“If you’ve got a low rate to begin with, think about how much it would take to increase that rate,” he said.

Lt. Matt Kiederlen of the University Police agreed.

“It could be attributed to any number of things,” Kiederlen said.

Kiederlen explained besides a fluctuation in the population at NIU, which could contribute to a change in crime rates, “another aspect could be that since officers are in the halls so much and people are comfortable with them, people are more comfortable.”

Residence halls also have felt the effects of a rising rate of burglary, said Melissa Burlingame, hall director of Douglas C/D.

“We work with the UP and we put up fliers to prevent book theft, especially during mid-terms and finals when they have a higher resale value,” Burlingame said.

She also said burglary awareness is pushed during residence hall meetings.

While the numbers for robbery also experienced a jump, the change was minimal, from zero in 2002 and 2003, to two last year.

Grady explained the difference between a robbery and a burglary.

“A burglary is when you enter a residence without permission [and] steal something, whereas a robbery is a crime against a person. You actually have to approach a person and take something from that person,” Grady said.

Reaction to the report was varied.

“I personally don’t think [NIU crime rates are] any worse than any other institution,” said Corban Sanchez, hall director of Grant South.

Kiederlen gave advice for limiting the opportunities for burglary.

“If you leave your residence hall, apartment or home with your door wide open and your CD player within arms reach, unfortunately there are segments in society which will take it,” Kiederlen said. “Show self-control, don’t go out and get drunk or take drugs that affect your mental state.”