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Theft At Furman

On my tour of Furman as a prospective student, I remember the tour guide bragged about how she could leave her laptop and iPod in the library for hours and no one would take them. But, with a nod to our own “Crime Briefs” section, a lot more crime occurs on campus than one would think.

By Heather Soltis

Do you ever wonder how safe Furman actually is? Judging from the amount of unattended backpacks, miscellaneous bags, and laptops in the library, I would say that students tend to trust in the kindness of strangers. Or maybe, most students at Furman don’t need to sell laptops on the black market to get by.

On my tour of Furman as a prospective student, I remember the tour guide bragged about how she could leave her laptop and iPod in the library for hours and no one would take them. But, with a nod to our own “Crime Briefs” section, a lot more crime occurs on campus than one would think.

I spoke with Bob Miller, the Director of University Police, to find out what really happens on campus and what steps they are taking to ensure students’ safety.

The most common crime on campus is bicycle theft. There have been 88 thefts in the past year, with the majority of the bicycles stolen “unsecured”, or unlocked.

President Smolla’s recent e-mail cautioned students to lock their bikes, stating that student bicycles had been found as far away as North Carolina, in Charlotte and Asheville.

Miller confirmed that high-end bicycles are being stolen at Furman and on other college campuses in the area and being sent up to Asheville. The people behind this operation, he says, have the tools to cut through the cables of a bike lock. A bicycle owner’s best defense is to register his or her bicycle through the Furman police department so they can track and return bicycles more efficiently.

Furman’s accessibility to the wider Greenville community also puts our possessions at risk. Miller revealed that the reason they started to close the back gates after 10 p.m. was because they deduced that most bicycles were stolen from South Housing and North Village after 10. Now that thieves can no longer sneak in through the back, the number of thefts has sharply decreased.

The second most common crime on campus is larceny, or theft of personal property, with 180 cases in the past three years.

There exists an unspoken rule that a backpack left in a study room reserves the room for its owner, and the urgency felt towards homework convinces students that reserving a study space is more of a priority than the risk of leaving their belongings unattended. Students have become perhaps too accustomed to leaving their belongings unsupervised, which Miller attributed to thinking of Furman as a home and more secure than it actually is. He recommended thinking of your dormitory as a motel – a place that would necessitate locking your door.

In addition to his tips on how to stay safe, we can thank Bob Miller for the accessibility of information on campus crime in the “Crime Briefs” section of The Paladin.

He said that when he started working at Furman in 1978, he told the current president of the university that he was going to publish the crime briefs because he wanted students to be informed and know how to protect themselves.

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