Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Crime climbs; officials ask residents to beware

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In light of recent increases in residential burglaries and
robberies, Madison and Dane County officials are calling on people to use
caution late at night and keep their eyes peeled for anything suspicious.

In February alone, more than 10 robberies and burglaries
were reported to the Madison Police Department, many of which occurred late at
night when the victim was walking home alone, said Joel DeSpain, MPD public
information officer.


?We?ve advised this since summer of 2006: It?s just not a
safe practice to walk alone,? DeSpain said. ?Plan out your night so you know
who you?re going to leave with and how you?re going to get home safely.?

According to FBI statistics, 785 burglaries occurred in
Madison in the first six months of 2007. DeSpain said crime statistics for the
entire year of 2007 will come out in the next few weeks.

One of the most disturbing burglary trends, according to
City Council President Mike Verveer, District 4, is the number of residential
burglaries that occur because people leave their doors and windows unlocked,
allowing burglars to enter with ease.

?We’ve seen this the whole academic year in unprecedented
numbers,? Verveer said, referring to crimes of opportunity trends. ?It?s just
amazing there have been so few arrests.?

MPD has made a handful of arrests, but according to
DeSpain, the ?smash and grab burglaries? occur so fast that it is difficult to
arrest perpetrators.

For Verveer, the positive side of burglary trends is the
perpetrators? nonviolent nature.

?Luckily, burglars do what they can to get out of there,
and they aren?t trying to hurt anyone,? he said. ?I find some solace in that.?

According to a Dane County Sheriff?s Office release, there
is a recent trend of perpetrators waiting outside homes to see if residents are
home, and if no one answers, they burglarize the home. If someone does answer,
the perpetrator gives a false story explaining why he or she is there.

Laptops, gaming systems, jewelry and cash are the most
targeted items, Verveer said, and since so many people do not have renters
insurance, burglaries result in thousands of dollars in loss and a huge sense
of violation for students.

?So many laptops are stolen that could contain an entire
year of research,? Verveer added.

DeSpain said MPD recognizes burglaries are the ?crime du jour
right now,? and detectives from across the city are periodically convening to
discuss what to do about such a mounting problem. Law enforcement from Dane
County is also constantly briefed about crime trends in Madison and surrounding

?We try to all trade information, so we are all aware of
trends and suspect likeliness,? DeSpain said.

Verveer encouraged students to keep their eyes open for
anything strange.

?If you see somebody suspicious, hanging out on a porch,
you shouldn’t feel hesitant to call the cops,? he said.

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