Drop in UMaine burglaries credited to card readers at residence halls

Posted Oct. 24, 2011, at 7:10 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — Burglaries at the University of Maine dropped dramatically from 2008 to 2010, according to statistics released Monday by Robert Dana, vice president for student affairs.

In the calendar year 2008, 44 burglaries were reported to campus police. Just five were reported in 2010, while 24 were reported in 2009.

University of Maine spokesman Joe Carr attributed the decrease in burglaries to a new building entry system installed at the university’s 19 residence halls.

“Card reader systems are now in place, making those buildings more secure, with access limited strictly to those students who live in those buildings,” Carr said Monday in an email. “We have also undertaken public information campaigns to raise awareness, especially among students, about the appropriate steps to keep one’s belongings secure in buildings and in vehicles.”

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Information about when the card readers were installed and their cost was not available late Monday.

Of the 44 burglaries reported in 2008, 33 were in residence halls. The others were car burglaries. Of the five reported last year, three were at residence halls.

Another factor that may have contributed to the decrease is the fact that for a break-in to be counted as a burglary, forced entry must be proven, according to information provided by campus police via Carr.

Arrests for alcohol and drug offenses also appear to have declined dramatically, but that drop is directly attributable to how those offenses have been redefined.

Previously, civil infractions for the illegal possession of alcohol by people under the age of 21 and possession of marijuana were counted as arrests when people were summoned to court. Beginning in 2010, the arrest category only included people who were taken into custody.

That explains why the number of drug arrests went from 67 in 2009 to two in 2010 and arrests for violation of the state’s liquor laws fell from 205 to seven, respectively.

As “arrests” fell, reports to the university’s Code of Conduct office increased from 173 in 2009 to 230 in 2010 for drug use and from 402 in 2009 to 423 in 2010 for liquor law violations.

“UMaine has taken deliberate steps, through increasingly vigorous training and redeployed staffing, to increase the ability of residence hall staff members and other professionals to assist police in identifying instances of inappropriate behavior, resulting in a high likelihood of marijuana-related issues being reported,” Carr said.

The number of forcible sex offenses reported went from seven in 2008 to three in 2009 and nine in 2010. The majority of those reported occurred in residence halls — five in 2008, two in 2009 and eight in 2010.

“Safety is one of our highest priorities at UMaine,” Dana said Monday in an email statement. “Students, faculty, staff and visitors need to feel safe here and we spend a great deal of time and effort to assure that this is a place where illegal and dangerous behaviors are not tolerated. We are a community where civility is prized and where the corrosive effects of drug abuse and other social problems are examined and prevented on a daily basis.”

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