Theft Rampant at UVM, Burlington

Property theft among the University of Vermont residence halls and other academic buildings has witnessed an incredible spike within the past thirteen months and especially since the beginning of the 2003-2004 academic year, according to UVM Chief of Police Gary Margolis. Among the most popular items of choice to the thieves are purses and wallets, bicycles, and laptop computers and other small, personal electronic devices. Perhaps most startling has been the increase in the amount of theft of multi-media equipment including digital cameras and projectors from the University grounds. According to UVM police services, different people are often after different items and have different means of exchanging hot items for hard cash. However, outside of a string of bicycle thefts that were linked to a theft-ring based at the University of Maine at Orono earlier this year, most of the thefts committed at the University of Vermont are believed to be related to drug use and other lifestyle decisions that involve a need for fast-cash and hence are usually less organized.Off the grounds of the UVM campus, property theft has been and continues to be a problem affecting many UVM students. While overall property theft has not seen a real increase in the Burlington area, “property-theft crimes follow certain patterns of when they occur and when they are reported.”, states Deputy Chief Walt Decker of the Burlington PD. According to Decker, non-confrontational property-thefts are more likely to occur among neighborhood heavily populated by students, at the “transitional times” of the year, or in other words, when people are moving into and out of their houses. Furthermore, crimes of this nature are more likely to occur when not all the people living in the house have keys, or when the weather gets nice and people leave windows open. Due to the fact that some Burlington neighborhoods have a high proportion of students, young professionals and other “transients”, people often can’t tell who should be in a house across the street or down the block and who should not be. Hence, in more sedentary neighborhoods where all inhabitants have established neighborhood-watch type programs, property theft is often less common.Concerning off-campus property-theft, especially when a number of crimes have been committed in a single neighborhood in a short period of time; Burlington police often try to establish connections and discover patterns to the crimes such as on what days of the week they occurred, or if any of the victims belong to the same mailing lists. In some instances, police also try to run surveillance on areas where they expect crimes to occur and thus dissuade criminal activity. Within the Burlington Township, the police state that property-theft is usually more specialized. That is to say, thieves usually have mapped-out networks of how to off stolen goods such as watches and jewelry, and that these goods are often “chopped-up” and the gold and silver melted down. According to Deputy Chief Decker, a great deal of property illegally removed from Burlington residences, often reaches the other side of the state within hours. Due to this “increased specialization”, it is not uncommon for thieves to pass-over some items of value and proceed to look only for certain types of property.Should one be a victim of property-theft, Burling Police urge victims to file a report as soon as possible, both to get a fresh story and to try to salvage any physical evidence before it becomes overly contaminated. In all cases, the best thing to do concerning the crime rate is to take preventative measure, and above all, to use common sense. Aside form securing doors and windows; people can take preemptive measures to recover stolen items such as by installing “lap track” software on computers. Other informational resources regarding the theft-phenomenon are available from the UVM police services website.