Thefts, Hit-and-Runs Peak During Start of Semester

Joshua Ceballos/Staff Writer

As the new semester gears up, students should be keeping an eye on the important things: their class schedules, their dining dollar balances, and their personal belongings.

For the past two years, theft is the most common crime at the start of the semester according to the FIU Police Department’s crime log.

Based on the log, the first few weeks of the semester are the hottest time of year for opportunistic thieves taking advantage of the hustle and bustle on campus. 

Between Monday, Aug. 20 and Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, there were 36 thefts on the Modesto Maidique Campus not including bicycle thefts. In 2017, there were 29 thefts in the same period between August and September– just as students start converging on campus.

The reason for this uptick in thefts? The first weeks of class are the busiest times on campus, and the time when people are most anxiously moving from place to place, according to FIUPD Chief Alexander Casas.

“There are usually thefts of laptops, cell phones, and textbooks around that time,” says Casas. “This spike happens because people are doing a lot of their business like signing up for classes and dropping classes, paying their tuition, and they leave their stuff unattended.”

Items stolen in the last two years around the beginning of fall include laptops, iPhones, FIU One Cards, and even someone’s laundry hamper and bath towels.

Another crime that sees a significant spike at the outset of the semester is hit and runs. There were 16 incidents in 2018 in the first few weeks of fall, and 17 in 2017. Casas says that this is because new students aren’t used to traffic on campus.

“There are a lot of crashes in the garages because students haven’t learned the ebb and flow of traffic. No major accidents, just fender benders,” he says.

To avoid falling victim to these annual crimes, students should be aware of their surroundings, Casas says. Rather than save their spots at a table with your backpack, he suggests students keep their things on their person. The same caution should be exercised in the parking garages.

“The thefts and accidents usually tick down after add/drop, so students should keep their eyes open at least until then, if not longer.” he says.

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