Theft, substance abuse make up majority of campus crime

Jacob Parker

With another semester coming to a close, crime on campus is likely to see an exponential drop when students leave for winter break. The semester has seen its fair share of incidents, however, with 151 reports of crime.

Instances of theft, alcohol intoxication and possession of drugs top the list.

Theft ranks first, with a total of 49 incidents and an estimated $28,829.98 stolen from locations around campus. However, one theft included a $9,952 flute, contributing to the higher estimated value.

Dominic Ossello, communications officer for the WKU Police Department, said the number of incidents doesn’t sound overly high compared to previous years. 

“We’ve had several over the past years where musical instruments are stolen,” he said. “Musical instruments are high-ticket items, and definitely jack up the numbers considerably.”

The majority of thefts were phones or bikes, with chances of items being recovered. However, the number of students who have items stolen is greater than the number who have items returned, Ossello said. 

“I wish I could say it was higher than it actually is,” he said. “It’s really hard if people don’t keep serial numbers or itemize it in some way. Phones are the most common, and without a serial number, recovery is almost impossible.

“If people keep up with their serial numbers, that drastically improves our ability to recover property. Theft is definitely a hard one to deal with because it’s so random and quick, but we’ve definitely stepped up our extra patrols.”

In terms of violent acts on campus, three accounts of assault, one account of sexual assault, two incidents of physical altercations and one account of rape that is currently being investigated were reported.

Alcohol intoxication accounted for 29 reports, while driving under the influence made up 17— bringing alcohol-related crimes to a total of 46. An additional 20 incidents reported were drug related, including marijuana and cocaine. With 66 drug and alcohol related crimes, almost 44 percent of crimes on campus this semester were related to substances.

“That sounds about average. It may be a little bit on the lower end, if that makes sense,” he said. “Obviously, DUI is a major concern for the safety of students and campus as a whole.”

Ossello attributes the number of DUI incidents to increased traffic stops, while with drugs, it’s usually a call from someone else in a dorm when drugs are smelled or seen.

“We haven’t really done anything new or different. Its just continued support,” he said.

Ossello said it’s something the station will never stop looking at but it goes further than just police control.

“Education and good decision-making will always win out in that one,” he said. “We can’t do enough to enforce it compared to people who just make the right decision. Hopefully, things like the shuttle and friends taking control of the situation will help minimize that more than anything the police could do.”