While the city of Ann Arbor experienced a decrease in crime in
2003, University students need to take precautions to protect
themselves, particularly against property theft, according to Ann
Arbor Police Department Chief Daniel Oates.
The overall crime rate declined in Ann Arbor in 2003, but the
eight major crimes — those that police departments are
required to report to the state — remained virtually
unchanged, Oates said.
“We had a modest decrease in overall crime but not in
major crimes,” he said. “Overall crime, which includes
lesser crimes, was down by 1.9 percent.”
The nine major crimes fell by 0.6 percent, including a 10.9
percent drop in burglaries and a 6.9 percent decrease in forcible
rape. But some of the major crimes increased substantially —
car theft rose by 25.4 percent and robberies rose by 17
Several other crimes fell significantly. Narcotics offenses were
down 17.8 percent, driving under the influence by 18.5 percent and
forgery by 29.7 percent.
Some of the most rampant crimes committed against University
students occur because students leave their residences or cars
unlocked, Oates said.
“There is a criminal underclass in this town that preys on
students,” Oates said. “We could impact crime in this
city significantly if we can get students to lock their
Students living on and off campus tend to leave their doors
unlocked and don’t keep valuables concealed. This is
particularly a problem in off-campus housing, where a large number
of students are living together.
“Students don’t pay particular attention to who is
going into large residences, and they become easy victims
unnecessarily so,” Oates said. “When there are five,
10, 15 students in dwellings, doors are left open and people will
steal.” Oates attributes this to students not knowing who
else lives in their residences and to large residences usually have
many people entering and exiting frequently.
Oates added that more than 50 percent of thefts from cars occur
because the vehicles are left unlocked.
“We’ve got a police department that works very
hard,” Oates said. “We have regular crime strategy
meetings with University police where we go through recent crime
The AAPD and Department of Public Safety use these
Wednesday-morning meetings to determine how to best allocate police
patrols in order to respond to crimes that are occurring around the
University. “Our meetings with them help,” DPS Capt.
Joe Piersanti said. “We share information on crime trends,
suspects and crime statistics. If we see a certain trend, I show
them to all the police bureau supervisors and we decide how to
DPS also divides the University into three districts and assigns
officers to specific districts and to specific buildings within
those districts, Piersanti said.
“We try to open the lines of communication between
officers and students and officers and faculty,” he
In the effort to increase safety and decrease crime, the AAPD
tries to focus on apprehending individuals who have a prior
criminal record because those individuals tend to repeatedly commit
crimes and have outstanding warrants, AAPD Sgt. Jim Stephenson
“What we are doing is taking a more active approach in
going after fugitives,” he said. “We are making a push
to focus on those with a known criminal history.” The AAPD
has also offered a $500 reward for information that leads to an
arrest of the attacker who stabbed a University student on Sunday.
Anyone with information can call AAPD Detective Robyn Gillen at