Beware Worsening Crime Around UC Riverside

UCR Police Chief Mike Lane, left, and Riverside Police Captain Mike Perea

By Lindsay Cabreros

June 02, 2013; 04:00 AM

‘I waited 15 minutes for the trolley but it never came! I could’ve walked home by now,” I said to my mom on my iPhone. It was 6 p.m. as I walked down Canyon Crest Drive to my apartment near the University of California, Riverside campus. The trolley often stopped a block before the actual bus stop since curbside parking was easier, leaving students stranded if they weren’t looking.

I held onto my phone tightly, aware of the armed robbery that occurred a week prior. I scanned the baseball field and parked cars lining the street. A young, lanky man walked in my direction. He wore a navy blue crewneck shirt and black zip-up hoodie. He certainly didn’t look suspicious with his clean-shaven face and stylish fitted jeans. I moved to the far right of the sidewalk so he could pass me, and continued talking to my mom. Instead, he walked toward me.

“Excuse me, umm, can I make a call?” he said. I squinted my eyes, trying to look as mean as possible despite being 5’2 and wearing a tank top with a giant embroidered peace sign.

“Uhh, that’s okay. I’m good,” the man said. He hurried past me.

“Mom, I have to go. I’m walking home and I’m about to cross this busy intersection,” I lied.

“Okay, mija. Get home safely!” she said. I placed my iPhone in my back pocket, tugging my hem down to conceal it. A phone was the only valuable item I carried nowadays. No wallet, just my UCR ID and Wells Fargo debit card that could easily be cancelled.

The next day, I received one of the frequent e-mails from John Freese, the UCPD assistant chief of police. A student walking home had her cell phone stolen by a man with a similar description.

As a graduating senior, I have seen crime rates rise and fall at the university. Crime was sporadic my freshman and sophomore years. In fact, statistics show that UCR had less reported crime than UC Santa Barbara, UC Berkeley and UC Irvine in 2011. The crimes in the statistics are based on all property crimes and violent crimes.

But this year, crime has become increasingly rampant. UCPD has compiled monthly crime statistics for the beginning of 2013 and the results are overwhelming.

In January, February, and March, there were 225 reported crimes at the UCR campus. That’s 225 reported crimes within 90 days. Incredible.

The UCR crimes were primarily larceny, but they also included minor cases like public intoxication and motor vehicle incidents.

A task force, created by interim chancellor Jane Conoley, was created to address the heavy crime. One outcome is the UCPD implementation of saturation assignments in crime-ridden areas such as Rustin Avenue. But has it worked?

The simple answer is no. Crime has not declined. Oddly enough, criminals have also become bolder. For example, two separate sexual assaults occurred at the Bannockburn Apartment complex in early May, located a mere 500 feet from the UCPD station.

Recently though, the task force has created the Point to Point (P2P) transport program which provides students with transportation to nearby housing during the hours of 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. This new program is a great way to protect students and may prove successful in the future.

I commend Conoley for her quick response, but little has changed. Police are supposed to be saturating crime-ridden areas, yet crime has escalated in magnitude and violence.

Until I see some real results, I’ll continue to carry the bare minimum in my bag, hold pepper spray, and walk fast with a menacing face, hoping to deter any criminals who stand in my way.

Lindsay Cabreros is a senior at UC Riverside.
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