Recent Los Angeles reports of “flocking” crimes surrounding the university are being met with contradictory evidence from the Dept. of Public Safety and the Los Angeles Police Department.
Gina Silva, a reporter with Fox 11 News in Los Angeles, repeatedly reported that teams of burglars known as “flocking crews” have been an increasing problem in the L.A. community.
The word “flocking” refers to group burglaries and is used loosely with other crimes in the reports. DPS Capt. David Carlisle said the department does not have a problem with increased burglaries.
“I’m familiar with what has been written in the past and our immediate relations personnel have dealt with this particular reporter, who has made these allegations that the gangs are targeting USC before,” Carlisle said. “USC Public Safety has no evidence of that and we have investigated with LAPD and they have nothing to substantiate the claims of the reporter.”
Silva said USC officials believe the incidents are crimes of opportunity as opposed to organized crime. When the story was first brought to the attention of DPS last year, the department checked with its counterparts in the LAPD to confirm that there was insufficient evidence to suggest that university students are specifically being targeted.
“The property thefts that we have observed are not consistent with flocking or any other type of organized criminal behavior,” the statement from DPS, released this month in response to the Fox 11 broadcast, read. “These were largely crimes of opportunity committed by unaffiliated individuals. We made arrests in most of these cases and are confident that the suspects were operating independently.”
“Most of us in law enforcement had never even heard of [flocking] until this reporter brought it up,” Carlisle said.
Silva said the USC area dealt with more than 50 burglaries, assaults and robberies.
“Different gangs are running flocking crews in that area,” Silva said in her report, “because they know that students have expensive electronics.”
For example, burglaries have increased on Ellendale Place in recent years, according to DPS crime reports. In 2012, 11 residential burglaries and two car burglaries were reported — an increase from six burglaries in 2011. So far in 2013, one burglary has occurred on Ellendale Place and no car burglaries were reported in 2012.
Some students, including Sohem Dhesi, a freshman majoring in architecture, maintain that they still feel safe on the University Park Campus, especially with the increased safety policies.
“Coming back from [off-campus] at 3 or 4 a.m. at night … before, I used to feel a bit concerned,” Dhesi said. “I felt that anyone could get in the gates, but it’s more difficult now so I feel better.”
Esolene He, a freshman majoring in biomedical engineering, said that though she feels safe, she understands why the university may be an appealing target for burglars.
“It seems like a big concern, but it’s pretty safe,” He said. “However, it is a pretty wealthy school and we’re easy targets.”
Christian Vanderwall, a junior majoring in computer science and business administration, attributed the crime to the surrounding area.
“It just happens to be that we’re the nearest location in a high concentration of criminals,” Vanderwall said.
Carlisle maintained that being aware and responsible, especially with personal property, was of the utmost importance, especially on a college campus.
“There are thieves who come to USC to steal because the students have a lot of valuable electronics,” Carlisle said. “But, that’s true at every college campus.”