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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, June 24, 2024

On crime and common sense

After a string of car break-ins last week, as well as the Brown & Brew burglary and robberies behind Curtis Hall that occurred earlier this semester, many students might be wondering whether they are still enrolled in the same school.

After all, Tufts is not located in Compton, or even Cambridge, for that matter. When most students think of Medford/Somerville, burglaries, stick-ups and grand-theft auto rarely come to mind. Nor should they. But that does not mean that Tufts is immune from crime.

In 2002, there were seven incidences of aggravated assault and 23 burglaries on campus at Tufts. In 2003, there were 55 burglaries and two car thefts. In 2004, there were 35 burglaries, six car thefts, one assault and three robberies. What do these numbers tell us? Well, clearly Tufts is not exactly 1950s "Pleasantville." Crime does occur.

Granted, these numbers are much lower than, say, Harvard's. (Harvard had 372 burglaries in 2004.) But students still need to be vigilant if they do not want to shell out $2,000 for a new laptop.

Many at Tufts seem to be oblivious to the possibility of crime, and throw caution to the wind whenever they leave their doors unlocked and their belongings unattended. Students think, "It won't happen to me," and all of the advice the Tufts University Police Department (TUPD) gives during orientation goes in one ear and out the other.

There is a reason for all of those boring info sessions: They will prevent crime if you heed the instructions they contain. In fact, TUPD's messages should not be thought of as instructions; most of what they say is common sense.

Just as you normally would not leave a laptop unattended in a public caf?©, do not leave it unattended in the library. The same goes for locking your bedroom door, leaving expensive items in your car or allowing strangers into your dorm. It is difficult and socially awkward to close the door in a stranger's face when you walk into your dorm, but consider the Boston University alternative.

If you live in a BU residence hall, entering your building is basically tantamount to passing through security at Logan airport. There is a guard behind a window, you have to scan an ID to get through a turnstile, and if you want to bring in guests, you have to sign for them. These measures work very well: Despite housing thousands more students than Tufts, BU has a similar amount of on-campus burglaries. But most Tufts students would agree that the BU approach would be a bit extreme for this campus.

Of course, students are not solely responsible for their safety and security at Tufts. TUPD generally does a good job policing this campus - some partygoers might even say too good - and officers such as sergeant Robert McCarthy have vowed to increase patrolling of problem areas following the recent vehicle break-ins.

But the first step in preventing crimes is ensuring that the incentive to commit one is not present. That is why TUPD sent out a safety alert yesterday recommending that drivers lock their cars and remove valuable items from them.

On the whole, it is impossible to predict where and when crime will occur, or to gauge why one person will be a victim while his/her neighbor will emerge unscathed. But crime can be prevented. If students would just use common sense, TUPD's job would be that much easier, and the need for this editorial would not exist.

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