The Dept. of Public Safety has had to relax areas of patrol in recent weeks, most notably areas of campus known for heavy bike traffic, in order to cope with an increase in property theft at USC.
There have been 18 more property incidents from Aug. 14 to Sept. 10 as compared with last year, but the overall property theft level in the area over the last year is down 5 percent, according to Los Angeles Police Department Lieutenant Darrell Belthius.
DPS has also noticed an increase in property theft through its analysis program, Comcast, which finds trends in crimes that occur over the course of a week, DPS Capt. David Carlisle said.
“The emphasis shift to property theft is the result of countless Comcast statistical analyses carried out by DPS every week,” Carlisle said. “For almost a year, we at DPS have seen a sharp spike in the statistical data concerning property theft, and most recently this trend has come up again — this kind of situation naturally stretches our resources.”
LAPD said it is imperative that police enforce bike laws and prevent property theft around campus.
“The main victims of property theft and biking incidents alike happen to be those uneducated about the proper course of action and subsequently those who are new and unaware to this unique environment [around USC],” Belthius said.
Carlisle said the recent increase in property theft comes from an increase in the number of students in the area at the start of the school year and crime should soon return to normal levels.
Carlisle said the shift in resources will benefit students in the long term.
“Bike accidents in the past week are mostly due to the sudden congestion in those areas and are very hard to prevent,” Carlisle said. “This emphasis shift will primarily impact students in a positive way as we hope to crack down on suspicious activity that may cause acts of theft within the USC community.”
Some students said it is appropriate for DPS and LAPD to focus on property theft given recent statistics.
“DPS should definitely be more active in patrolling for property theft activities,” said Aaron Childs, a sophomore majoring in popular music performance. “Physically being in the right place at the right time is key, and I feel if DPS had placed one officer in the area it would be such an effective deterrent.”
Mitch Kirner, a junior majoring in psychology, said DPS is correct to focus on property theft and limit enforcement of biking restrictions.
“I can understand the patrolling down Trousdale [Avenue] and nearby the quad,” Kirner said. “I can understand being ticketed in this zone but it shouldn’t really be anywhere else. There are more important things [DPS] could be doing.”
Some students, however, said DPS should still work to enforce biking rules.
“I recently got in a biking accident off a crosswalk and the police weren’t anywhere to be seen,” said Brandon Woodward, a sophomore majoring in popular music performance. “They need to make sure they are more active by patrolling all areas with equal importance for the safety of all students.”
Noah Tanski, a sophomore majoring in environmental science, said DPS officers should be more mobilized.
“I feel as if the resources should be used for more relevant purposes,” Tanski said. “A lot of incidents can be avoided if the majority of officers weren’t idle and only in one place.”
DPS and LAPD will continue to focus on property theft and remind students to lock their doors, hide their belongings in vehicles and be mindful not to display personal items in public for their own safety.
Both LAPD and DPS encourage attendance at their weekly seminars and urge students to comply with the recommended rules of safety to prevent property theft and bike accidents.