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Crime Rate Unprecedented in Recent Years

Crime Rate Unprecedented in Recent Years

By Lauren Toole

On Saturday, Feb. 2 around 2:00 a.m., Kenyon College Bookstore Manager Jim Huang received a call from Safety, who told him that the window next to the ATM had been broken at the Bookstore.

[Safety] told me that a student broke the window, and that it was witnessed but they didnt know who it was and that the student ran off, Huang said. They told us that they did not think that the student had gotten inside.

Over the weekend, four separate incidents of vandalism including the one at the Bookstore as well as multiple thefts were reported to Safety and to the Knox County Sheriffs Office, abruptly ending what had been a welcome lull of crime on campus.

After last semesters record-breaking numbers of theft and vandalism, the College appeared to be returning to normal.

We really thought, especially coming back with a new semester, that things were getting better and going to be OK, said Director of Safety Robert Hooper.

Between the nights of Friday, Feb. 1 and Saturday, Feb. 2, a vending machine was smashed in Old Kenyon Residence Hall, bathrooms in Hanna Residence Hall were vandalized and a fire extinguisher was set off in Gund Commons.

The cost to replace the vending machine is estimated to be around $1,250, according to Fred Linger, manager of Business Services.

Nobody has come forward saying that theyve seen anything or heard anything, Hooper said. Thats whats most frustrating for us. Somebody surely would have heard something or seen something.

Later that day, the mens basketball game against DePauw University saw a number of items stolen from the Lords team locker room. The Lords had just defeated the DePauw Tigers in a buzzer-beater by Ikenna Nwadibia 14 when they returned to their locker room to find that wallets, phones, keys and headphones had gone missing during the game.

The items were reported stolen through the Knox County Sheriffs Office, and a wallet has been recovered in Mount Vernon.

That leads us to believe that it is someone in the outside community coming in and taking advantage of the openness of the campus, Hooper said. When you have that many people in for a game, youve got to get people to start locking things up.

It becomes an issue where youre not locking up your valuables and then it becomes an opportunity, said Justin Newell, assistant director of athletics and director of the Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC). The more opportunity people have, the more likely something is going to happen.

The KAC in particular has been a regular target area for theft and has been the source of multiple reports of suspicious persons this year. In light of this increase, Newell has implemented a number of increased security measures to try to combat these issues. KAC desk workers and supervisors are now required to do walk-throughs during their shifts, and stickers were placed on the mens and womens locker rooms in order to prevent mistake-prone individuals from wandering into locker rooms.

Weve gone further than we ever have, but it just also seems to be happening more than ever before, Newell said. For the most part, Ive gotten a lot more emails about random people. Its helping.

Newell also looked into the possibility of acquiring security cameras to install at the KAC, but has found that theres a lot more than just saying, were going to get cameras.

It didnt happen as quickly as Id hoped, Newell said. The College as a whole is looking into it and rather than piecemealing building-by-building where the expense would probably be greater, theyre looking at it as a whole.

At the beginning of the year, Safety also debated placing a security camera in the Peirce coatroom after a string of thefts occurred there. They eventually rejected the proposal. We just dont have a lot of security cameras on campus, Hooper said. I think a lot of that is a cultural thing. Nobody wants Kenyon to be at that point, but were still working through that.

Currently, the Gund Gallery is the only building on campus with security cameras. Given the frequency of thefts and the reports of suspicious persons not only at the KAC but also elsewhere on campus, the possibility of adding cameras might have to be revisited.

I think that is a discussion we need to be making as a community, Hooper said. Obviously, students need to be a big part of that because its all of us. It shouldnt just be what we think. However, I think that discussion maybe needs to begin to happen.

The weekends recent spike in vandalism and theft may have coincided with the power outage Friday night or the party at the Ganter-Price Hall on Saturday night, according to Hooper.

The previous weekends there werent as many parties because of Greek rushing, he said. Its really hard to tell.

Though this past weekends spike in crime may have been random, given the years trajectory, it will be important for the community to remain vigilant and try to prevent additional incidents like this weekends.

Vandalisms just been off the charts this whole year. Were not sure why, but its tough for us to try and be everywhere with how were staffed, which is why we really depend on the community to let us know, Hooper said. We have no problem following things up or contacting people, but we have to know.

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