High volumes, higher risk.
As the fall semester welcomes new students and families to the area, crime rates are likely to be the highest of the year. Burglaries, motor vehicle theft and forcible sex offenses are the most reported campus crimes, according to a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Of the 285 burglaries reported to the University of Florida Police Department in the last five years, about 213 occurred during the fall academic semester. Of the 72 sexual battery cases reported, 45 occurred in the fall, according to the UFPD crime log.
“Usually every fall semester with the influx of new students, you have a lot of people, a lot of freshmen, coming in,” said Officer Wayne Clark of the UFPD. “Anytime you have that many people new to the area and away from home for the first time and you add in potential intoxication and parties and football games, we see an increase in certain social activities.”
Also, more new students usually means more incidents of underage drinking and public intoxication. Alcohol poisoning has landed more students in the hospital this year than in previous ones, Clark said.
The UFPD responds to more property crimes than any other crimes, according to Sgt. Jeffrey Lamb. Sexual assaults are the most underreported crime, which increases the difficulty in determining their frequency, he said.
UF Alerts, an emergency notification system coordinated by the Department of Emergency Management, is the fastest way for UFPD to distribute information and encourages citizens to contact the department if they have any helpful information regarding cases.
“There’s a lot of information. We’re dispatching calls, taking phone calls and trying to send out UF Alerts,” Clark said. “We’re trying to get the information [out] as fast as possible and the best description as we’re receiving.”