While crime in the off-campus area around Oxford Residence Hall has been particularly high this year, the total number of crime incidents has decreased across campus.
Though official numbers have yet to be released, Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Diane Brown said reported major crimes from Jan. 1 to early April was down 28 percent compared to the same time period last year.
During the past school year, 13 crime alerts were released by DPS, warning students of crimes with suspects still at large. Of the 13 crime alerts released by DPS, four occurred in the vicinity of Oxford Residence Hall, near the Oxford Road and Hill Street crossroads, and all were after 11 p.m.
“We have had more reported incidents there than in any other year that I can remember in recent (years),” Ann Arbor Police Sgt. Mike Lance said.
Brown said the Oxford area is an attractive target for criminals because its residents are “in a much more vulnerable state” late at night. This vulnerability stems from students in the area walking by themselves, being unaware of their immediate surroundings or being intoxicated, Brown said.
Because of the high number of crimes in the area, students have started reaching out to the city this semester to try to encourage the installation of brighter lighting. LSA senior Katie Rosenberg, former president of the Panhellenic Association at the University, is one of the students leading the effort to petition for new LED street lights to replace the older conventional ones in the area that is home to many fraternity and sorority houses.
Since being started at the end of January, an online petition for the Lighting Initiative has collected 1,855 signatures in favor of the installation of lights that Rosenberg said are “brighter and cheaper to operate.”
Like the current academic year, there were also 13 crime alerts released during the 2009-2010 school year, Brown said. However, she said the number of crime alerts is not indicative of the amount of crime. Rather, crime alerts only represent the number of crimes viewed as threats to the University community.
Of the 13 crime alerts this year, seven involved theft, three were assaults, one was a sexual assault, one involved the report of a person with an alleged gun in a University building and one was an incident of indecent exposure. Since their original release, four crime alerts have been cancelled.
According to Brown, some criminals are repeat offenders. Therefore, it is not uncommon for criminals to “go back to the same place where they were quote-unquote successful in hitting before,” Brown said.
In one case, the suspect allegedly indecently exposed himself multiple times outside of Oxford Housing before being arrested in January. DPS and the Ann Arbor Police Department arrested Christopher Filipek as the alleged suspect. Filipek currently has 11 charges against him, including allegations of indecent exposure, eavesdropping and capturing or distributing images of an unclothed person, according to the Washtenaw County Trial Court’s website.
Though an arrest was made in that case, DPS is still looking for the suspects of a sexual assault case in March. A female student was sexually assaulted by four males in the Forest Avenue Parking Structure. The case is still open, and DPS is offering a $500 reward for any information on the suspects.