Burglary rates high in college towns

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Since last September, there have been over 140 reported burglaries in houses and apartments and about 25 reported car burglaries within Manhattan city limits. These crimes, particularly among K-State students, have been a cause for concern for students and law enforcement officers for many years.

There is no way to know who commits burglaries or why, but college towns have been shown to have some of the highest property crime rates in the U.S. Property crime means burglary, motor vehicle theft and regular theft. In 2009, Neighborhoodscout.com and Walletpop.com released a report on the most dangerous cities and neighborhoods in the U.S. for property crime, and found their list included numerous neighborhoods in close proximity to some of America’s largest universities.

College towns are targeted areas for crime because of the high density of young people in a small area, according to the report.

For many college students, there are several times throughout the day when their houses or apartments may be left unattended. Between going to class, student events, study groups and parties, students often may forget to lock the doors to their place or to their car.

“I know several people who leave their house unlocked while they are gone on purpose,” said Lauren Garrison, senior in print journalism. “It’s pretty unsafe to do that, and the chances of getting your stuff stolen go up more simply by leaving the door unlocked.”

Because Manhattan is a college town, a majority of the population walk from place to place to avoid traffic or police, simply because it is cheaper to walk or they don’t have a car.

This gives burglars plenty of opportunities to inconspicuously commit crimes without arousing suspicion. Garrison said the burglars who ransacked her apartment used her suitcase to carry stolen goods from her place.

“The burglars mainly focused on my electronics, like my video game systems and my desktop computer,” Garrison said. “They put everything into my backpack and suitcase and just walked out with it.”

At the time, Garrison lived on Bluemont Avenue and 11th Street. This location is right on the edge of the Aggieville shopping and bar district. The residences surrounding Aggieville are heavily populated because of the close proximity to both the bar district and the university.

People often walk through others’ front yards and backyards and sometimes even accidently enter the wrong house after mistaking it as their own when they are drunk. In such a dense environment as this, it is very difficult to know what kind of people to look out for and where to take the most caution.

Due to the woes of the economy and the already financially trying life of college, many students are strapped for cash and will sometimes go to desperate lengths to subsidize their lifestyles. This need may partly contribute to why students may be involved in some of these crimes.

Claire Ndaragkura, junior in social work, said being burglarized was an eye-opening experience for her. She said she didn’t expect anything like that to happen to her.

“It wasn’t a good feeling at all,” Ndaragkura said. “It sort of robs you of some of the innocence of the college experience.”

Lt. Herb Crosby, Media Lieutenant at the Riley County Police Department, said there are several tips and guidelines students should use in order to avoid being a victim of a burglary. Crosby said students should keep everything locked and lit up, and students should let someone know if they will be leaving their homes unattended for an extended period of time.

Students should take extra precautions especially during the holidays. Garrison said she was burglarized during Easter weekend when many students were out of town, and the burglars broke into her house between 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. while she was at work.

“They look out for things like empty parking lots and vacant residences, I think,” Garrison said.

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