A string of local robberies, thefts and assaults in the past few months have left some students at Occidental concerned about their safety.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), while crime in Eagle Rock has decreased over the last 20 years, the number of violent crimes and property crimes in the Northeast Division—which covers the area between Downtown, Glendale and Pasadena—are higher than they were at the same time last year. The total number of violent crimes is up by 28.4 percent while the total number of property crimes is up by 4.8 percent. Some students have taken notice of this increase.
“I have generally been feeling less and less safe living off campus and have been hearing of increasing accounts of robberies and the like,” Kate Gibbs (junior), a victim of a recent theft, said.
Gibbs and her roommate, who live in the off-campus Alpha Lambda Phi Alpha (Alpha) sorority house, had packages of mail stolen from their front porch March 17 at approximately 7 p.m. According to Gibbs, several witnesses did not attempt to apprehend the thieves as they ran off with the packages. Alpha President Shayna Jackson’s (senior) car was also broken into while it was parked in the Alpha parking lot.
“I think students off campus are definitely more likely to be robbed because I think that those committing such acts tend to steer clear of on-campus areas,” Gibbs said.
The increased crime has affected the Occidental campus as well. A student was assaulted with a deadly weapon on Anderson Field March 26, according to Campus Safety’s daily crime log. The victim was not harmed, and the suspects were later caught. Director of Campus Safety Victor Clay said that, despite Campus Safety’s constant patrol of the campus grounds, students should remain cautious.
“This incident and others that have recently occurred on and around our campus, are vivid reminders that Oxy is not immune to crime or opportunistic criminals,” Clay said in a March 27 email to the Occidental community. “Generally speaking, this is a safe community, even though the increase in incidents may seem to indicate otherwise.”
Even so, LAPD Officer Mike Gilbert believes that Occidental students are not singled out as victims.
“Criminals are opportunists and don’t usually hit far from where they themselves live,” Gilbert said. “I would guess those going after students live in the area and know it well.”
Campus Safety Lieutenant Edwin Mourthi advises that students not resist when faced with dangerous situations, such as the one that took place on Anderson Field.
“If any member of the community encounters an armed criminal, my best advice would be to comply with their demands,” Mourthi said. “Your life is far more valuable than any item in your possession. Students are encouraged to walk in groups, use well-lit paths and always be mindful of their surroundings.”
Despite increased safety measures, crime is always a concern of which students should be aware, according to Mourthi.
Gilbert—who has been assigned to the Northeast Community Police Station for 17 years—highlighted that gentrification-related changes during his service have significantly improved safety and security in the area, despite recent upticks in crime.
“Eagle Rock has been a complete 180 degree turn,” Gilbert said. “Before, there weren’t any fancy coffee shops. We had a couple run-down bars and much more violence. Things are much better now.”