On-campus petty theft and burglary on the decline


Burglary incidents at SF State experienced a steady increase over the past couple of years. While petty theft incidents have decreased, it continues to be the most frequently reported occurring crime on campus.

According to University Deputy Chief of Police Reginald Parson, burglary and petty theft may be attributed the University’s open campus policy that allows for anyone in the community to enter its public spaces such as the library, student center and the gym. Burglary is defined as an illegal entry into a building while petty theft is the unlawful taking of property that is valued under $950.

The campus saw an increase of burglary incidents by 138 percent from 2013 to 2016, while petty theft remains to be the most commonly reported crime on campus with an average of 111 incidents per year.

Parson believes that in order to reduce these crimes, students need to be aware of their surroundings and to remain in constant control of their belongings.

“More than often, these thefts happen after students have fallen asleep and leave their property unattended next to them or they may leave their property unattended after getting up to use the restroom,” Parson said.

University librarian, Deborah C. Masters, also believes that it is the students’ responsibility to ensure their belongings are safe.

“If we see belongings left unattended, we leave a card provided by University Police alerting students to never leave their belongings unattended,” Masters said. “The most frequent reason property is taken is that it is left unattended, usually when the student goes to the restroom.”

Increase in the numbers of burglary and petty thefts may also be attributed to the enactment of the California Proposition 47 back in 2014, according to Parson. Proposition 47 required thefts of value less than $950 to be concluded with a citation and a release at the scene. Before this statute, officers would arrest and transport the suspect to jail for the felony violation.

An SF State student — who prefers to go by the name Stephanie Andrews — discovered her apartment in the University Park North was burglarized last spring semester. Andrews said the case was never resolved.

Andrews and her roommates stopped receiving updates a week after the incident and have long since moved out of the neighborhood. She felt that increasing police officer neighborhood rounds would have reduced burglaries.

Even though past trends have shown a continuous increase for three years, 2017 showed a decrease in both burglary and petty theft incidents, which University Police Lt. Wailun Shiu is attributing to the combination of targeted enforcement and education contributed.

“We concentrated our efforts in the specific areas with targeted enforcement, undercover operations, as well as a strong educational public service announcement effort,” Shiu said.

Shiu continued, “Additionally, other University partners such as University Housing, University Property Management, as well as Park Merced Property Management played a key role in the educational aspect as well through their residential programs and communications.”