Police near Yale recover thousands of stolen electronics

When it comes to stolen electronics, cops near college campuses don’t often expend significant time searching for stolen electronics if leads are scarce (as they usually are). Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 11.17.13 PM

But in New Haven, Conn., home to Yale University, local police recently recently seized thousands of stolen electronics after raids in local stores, the Yale Daily News reports.

As a part of Operation Apple Harvest, New Haven Police officers conducted sting operations at three mobile device stores and a furniture shop, arresting five people on various charges, the Daily News reported.

A NHPD spokesman actually tells the Daily News that most of the devices won’t likely be returned because it’s hard to identify owners. Rather, the department said it hopes the raids sent a “strong message” to criminals. Not sure if that puts victims at ease.

Because it’s so hard to link devices back to their owners, rampant theft has led many large universities to form registration programs for electronics and bikes to connect a device’s serial number to its owner. With visible stickers, the programs likely deter theft — which means that a campus that is heavily registered could see a decrease in larceny statistics.

There aren’t many non-chain electronic stores here in Ann Arbor, so AAPD and University of Michigan Police don’t have much business raiding local shops. Here, on the rare chance that electronics are recovered, police tell me that they’re often recovered in the possession of individuals with drug-related charges. UMPD spokeswoman Diane Brown tells me that UMPD investigators have found that many thieves steal devices to sell them for narcotics.



I’m still here!

College newspapers–my main source of news for this blog–don’t do near as much reporting during the summer. That’s why you’re not seeing much of me. Not to mention I’m working 9 to 5, as opposed to during the school year, when I have a little more time to be able to do this.

If there’s any major breaking news, I’ll have it here, but otherwise, stick around until the fall. When students start coming back to campuses, there will be a lot more to talk about.

Five dead in shooting rampage at Santa Monica College, including shooter

FINAL UPDATE (6/9): The Los Angeles Times reports that six are dead, including the suspect (who was fatally shot by police in the library), in addition to his father and his brother, who perished in the burned home.

Multiple news outlets are reporting that a shooting has taken place on or near the campus of Santa Montica college.

The Los Angeles Times reports that three people have been shot by a single shooter. Police tell the local CBS affiliate that a man with one or more guns was firing bullets south of campus. Both report that the suspect was taken into custody in a library, while the affiliate reports that the shooting began at a residence.

A fire official tells the AP that two men are dead in a burned off-campus home near the shooting scene. It’s not yet clear if the deaths are related to the shooting:

Police also told the station that there are unconfirmed reports of a man shooting at a bus and car. A student told KCAL 9 that there were two shooters, but that report is unconfirmed. Often, firsthand reports immediately following an event like this are sketchy.

President Barack Obama is apparently not too far away from the school at a luncheon. The Secret Service says his trip hasn’t been impacted, according to CBS’s Mark Knoller:

Worth noting: The college’s website made no initial mention of the incident, even though news outlets report the school is on lockdown. The SMCPD page also had no alert. Most other colleges in the country–even small community colleges–have an alert system that posts bulletins on the school’s website and alerts students by email, text or phone message. I’m not even sure if they have such a system–I was unable to find a sign-up page on the SMCPD page.

Campus Crime Roundup: May 14, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 11.01.29 PMNot much was reported this past week—a lot of college papers are on break. Only one bullet today. Unfortunately, there won’t be a ton of items over the summer. 

  • Police at the University of California-Berkeley arrested four students after they refused to leave an area of campus property that they and other protesters were farming, the Daily Californian reported. The students were demonstrating against the construction of a housing complex. They argued the area should be turned into an urban farm. Most were arrested for trespassing, one for resisting arrest and another for refusing to follow police orders. Berkeley officials removed the crops.

UMD expands sexual assault response beyond campus: Sounds good, right? It’s not that simple.

Screen Shot 2013-05-11 at 1.19.27 AMThe University of Maryland Senate — a legislative body consisting of students, faculty, staff and administrators — voted last week to expand the school’s Code of Student Conduct so that officials can now respond to sexual assaults — and other conduct violations — that are reported not just on-campus but off-campus as well, the Diamondback reported Friday.

Previously, according to an official quoted in the Diamondback’s article, staff in the UMD Office of Student Conduct were forced to refer survivors of 0ff-campus sexual assault to the Prince of George’s County Police Department, which has jurisdiction surrounding the College Park campus.

According to the paper, sexual assault counselors at the school were receiving a large amount of reports of assaults off-campus (not at all surprising), but were concerned that they weren’t able to aid survivors by pursuing the sexual misconduct violations internally, in addition to any criminal consequences that may or may not come as a result of a law enforcement investigation. Apparently, University Police have even requested that they be allowed to expand their jurisdiction off-campus, again, not just for sexual assault, but for many other crimes/conduct violations, including assault, hazing and theft.

Sounds like a win-win, right? Sexual assault  survivors can report misconduct and get help from more agencies, and UMD administrators can help discourage sexual assault by punishing more perpetrators, right?

Yes this is right, and the increased attention to sex crimes is important.  But it’s important to also consider the extra layer of bureaucracy that is added here.

By increasing the amount of agencies that can investigate sexual assault, University administrators are putting more space between survivors and law enforcement. This is problematic, because it’s likely that police detectives are more experienced in investigating sexual misconduct and most importantly, they’re more likely to be able to find connections to other cases.

Let me show you what I’m talking about. My colleague at The Michigan Daily, Austen Hufford, wrote an impressive piece in March about how the University of Michigan’s internal investigations may have complicated a response by the Ann Arbor Police Department and a prompt alert to the University community about an assailant that may have assaulted at least three women.

In this case, a student reported to a University employee in September 2012 that she was sexually assaulted at a party in a off-campus, high-rise apartment building. Because the student did not wish to file a police report and not enough information was known about the crime, University Police did not alert the campus community. Instead, the Office of Institutional Equity — an internal security agency — was charged with investigating the report, per University policy.

While investigating the assault, OIE investigators learned of a second possible assault, alleged against the same suspect in the same apartment. It’s not clear why OIE didn’t tell University Police about this discovery, but because they didn’t, police were not able to even consider if a crime alert  should be sent out to the community. In both cases, there wasn’t much Ann Arbor Police could do without a police report.

Later, in February 2013, a third student reported to a staff member that she was sexually assaulted by the suspect in the high-rise apartment that month. This time, the staff member reported the incident to University Police (and later Ann Arbor Police), who then alerted OIE. An investigator at OIE must have had a sudden realization, because the Office alerted University and Ann Arbor Police that there weren’t just two sexual assaults reported at the apartment since September — there were three.

Had both September incidents been immediately reported to police — if not by the survivors then at least by OIE — it’s likely a connection could have been made in September, or at least an eyebrow could have been raised by detectives. Instead, a pattern wasn’t realized until roughly five months later, when the suspect is alleged to have struck again.

What I’m trying to say here is that, though it might seem like adding more investigators into the mix might combat sexual assault, it runs the risk of letting suspects slip through institutional gaps. In a perfect world, intelligence is fully shared across all agencies, and connections are always made between cases that are investigated by different agencies. I don’t have to tell you that’s hardly the case in any law enforcement network in the world today. The University knows that from a child pornography scandal that I reported on in 2012, in which security officers and an attorney neglected to share critical information with University Police.

If UMD’s Office of Student Conduct plans to share all information with the University’s police department, then it seems the change should help curb sexual assault. But experience at other universities suggests that might not happen. It’s a good strategy to have more investigators looking into reports of sexual assault, but that may be problematic if they’re not working together.

Dartmouth student newspaper concludes sexual assault series with story on Greek system

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The Dartmouth at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. is finishing up its three-part series on sexual assault with a report on how fraternities at the school are working to combat the prevalence of sexual assault on the campus.

The article notes that the council that governs the College’s fraternities and sororities has established a system that penalizes and educates members who are found guilty of sexual assault by the Committee on Standards, the College’s internal judiciary body. The council also offers sexual assault awareness training to groups, but officials tell the Dartmouth that few have used that service.

Several fraternity members quoted in the article express concern that the Greek system is being unfairly targeted in the fight against sexual assault. And while they’re given this space to cry foul, the article lacks significant insight from individuals who are critical of the Greek community. The Greek system is clearly working to combat sexual assault — and should be applauded for that — but surely there are students at Dartmouth who feel the Greeks aren’t doing enough or individuals who would disagree with the fraternity members’ assertion that they are being wrongly singled out.

The article does a great job in highlighting the Greek community’s educational initiatives and preventative measures, but it lacks almost any criticism of the Greek community for what is likely a somewhat significant problem among its chapters.

Clery Act statistics from 2011 show that 12 forcible sexual assaults were reported on Dartmouth’s campus and three in noncampus areas, which often includes fraternities, sororities and Co-ops.

UCLA student to appear in court on three violent felony charges

A male student at the University of California-Los Angeles will appear in court in June after being charged in a vicious attack against a female student at a fraternity party in March.

The Daily Bruin reports that Paul Meyer, a 20-year-old member of the Theta Chi fraternity at UCLA, allegedly attempted to choke a female student who was also attending a party at the fraternity’s house. He plead not guilty in April to charges of violent false imprisonment, assault by means likely to cause a great bodily injury and assault with intent to commit rape, sodomy or oral copulation.

Both Meyer and the victim were treated at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center for unidentified injuries following the incident. Police tell the Daily Bruin that Meyer and the female knew each other before the alleged attack. According to an article, Meyer was arrested immediately after the incident on suspicion of attempted murder and released on $200,000 bail.

Meyer was scheduled to appear in front of a judge to schedule his preliminary hearing on Friday, but that meeting was moved to June, according to the Daily Bruin. For the three felonies, the paper reports that Meyer could face a combined ten years in prison.

According to UCLA’s noncampus Clery Act Statistics, 15 sexual assaults and four aggravated assaults were reported off campus in 2011.