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LAST UPDATED: April 23, 2020


Mapping crimes on OU’s campus and in Athens

By Ellen Wagner | Editor-In-Chief

The Athens Police Department and the Ohio University Police Department received 350 crime reports from Jan. 11 to April 21.

Both police departments are continuing to work through the coronavirus pandemic and have made changes to day-to-day functions to ensure the safety of the staff and Athens residents. During this time of year, there are usually large weekends, fests and other events that cause the departments to have more crime reports.

Since the start of spring break on March 14, there have been 73 crime reports to APD and OUPD.

OUPD and APD have taken 64 reports of theft since Jan. 11, and 22 of the reports have occurred since the start of spring break. There have also been three reports of breaking and entering, eight reports of burglary and 17 reports of petty theft to APD since Jan. 11. Of those reports, four reports of burglary and 12 reports of petty theft have been taken since March 14.

OUPD Lieutenant Tim Ryan said the department generally sees a decrease in crime reports when students leave campus.

“I would expect that pattern to continue for this occurrence,” Ryan said in an email. “Officers shift their attention a little more to the protection of property, given the lack of people around to report suspicious activity.”

APD Capt. Ralph Harvey said there is a potential for some crimes to go up, but it is expected since students have left their off-campus housing.

“There's less people in town there's potential for burglaries, thefts, minor type crimes, small vandalisms and things like that,” Harvey said.

A map of APD and OUPD's crime log
Click a point on the map to see the details of each crime reported from Aug. 23 to April 21. Updates will occur throughout the semester to reflect the most recent crimes reported.
SOURCE: OUPD and APD Crime reports
NOTE: 176 of the 960 crimes did not include specific locations reported by APD and OUPD. 10 of those locations were labeled as “off-campus miscellaneous” and seven locations included sexual assaults.

The departments are also enforcing Ohio’s stay-at-home order that went into effect on March 23 and was extended until May 1. APD cited five people for violating Ohio’s stay-at-home order.

Harvey said APD gave warnings to people but gave out the first citation for a nuisance party and violating the order on March 31. During the weekend of April 4, four more people were given similar citations.

The individuals were given summons and released but were not actually taken to jail. Harvey said it would be counterproductive to physically arrest someone when the whole point of the citation is to decrease the risk to other people.

“Best scientific data is, we have to prevent contact between people, so that’s what we’re trying to do,” Harvey said.

Harvey said he wants people to understand the full order and not just to focus on certain parts, such as being in a group of 10 people or fewer.

“(The order) later says any type of event that is not essential and is outside of your living unit,” Harvey said. “You could theoretically be in violation of the order with two people.”

Ryan said OUPD is strictly enforcing the state health director’s orders. Although there have been no citations so far in the department, people found in violation will face criminal charges. If the person is a student, they will also be referred to OU’s Community Standards.

Previous reports

The Athens Police Department and the Ohio University Police Department saw nothing out of the ordinary happen over winter break.

There have been 205 crimes reported to the Athens Police Department and Ohio University Police Department from Nov. 12, 2019 to Jan. 13. Of those reports, 57 reports to APD and OUPD occurred during winter break between Dec. 14, 2019 to Jan. 12.

APD Chief Tom Pyle said it was quiet over break and the amount of reports over winter break were typical.

“There certainly was an uptick,” Pyle said. “It was not extraordinary. It was what we normally see.”

Pyle said there was a slight increase in burglaries, thefts and breaking and enterings. There was also a slight increase in break-ins for local businesses over break.

The increase seems significant when looking at reports because it is all reported around the same time.

“These things happen over a period of four weeks, but they all get recorded at the same time when people return to their homes,” Pyle said.

During the period of winter break, APD took four reports of breaking and entering, four reports of burglary and 11 reports of theft.

OUPD Lieutenant Tim Ryan said there is usually an increase in bicycle thefts over break around campus.

“The population leaves, bike thefts seem to go up,” Ryan said. “Probably because it's an easier target. They're unattended and people aren’t watching them.”

Ryan said there are two ways that they receive reports of bicycle thefts. One is if officers find evidence of a theft, such as a cut lock or a piece of the bicycle still attached to the bicycle rack. Another is someone coming back from break and saying their bicycle is not on the rack that they left it.

During winter break, OUPD also had seven traffic stops. From Nov. 12, 2019 to Jan. 13, OUPD had 16 reports of traffic stops.

Ryan said the number of reports remains consistent. Over break, there is a potential for an increase in reports since the number of people on campus decreases, the focus on traffic reports could increase.

During these two months, OUPD also had seven reports of fictitious or altered IDs.

It is not uncommon for OUPD to collect fake IDs. Ryan said some people will try to give them fake IDs thinking that they will work as real IDs, and they never work. People have also lost their wallets, come to OUPD to claim them and are reported for having a fake ID in their wallet.

“We have a lot of fake IDs in evidence,” Ryan said.

Eventually, the IDs will get destroyed like any other evidence in a closed case. The IDs can be kept anywhere from six months to two years before it is approved by the court to be destroyed. Being in possession of a fake ID is a first-degree misdemeanor.

There were also 10 reports of criminal damaging to APD and OUPD during those two months.

Pyle said criminal damaging reports are done for insurance purposes if someone has damage to their property. People can be caught in the act and arrested. Things like spray painting, tagging and other property damage can be classified as criminal damage.

The population of Athens increases when students arrive for the start of the school year. The same happens to the rate of crime.

The Ohio University Police Department and the Athens Police Department took 49 reports of crime from Aug. 23 to Sept. 2.

Both departments, however, expect crime reports to increase when students arrive back on campus.

APD Chief Tom Pyle said most crimes occur where there are high populations of people.

“The crime rates, when you look at them, are city signatures,” Pyle said.

In APD’s jurisdiction, popular areas for crimes include Walmart, which is located at 929 E. State St., and the downtown area where students live, including Court Street, Mill Street and High Street.

Walmart is a huge signature due to the number of thefts and amount of shoplifting that are reported. The east, west and south sides of Athens have their own pockets of crime, Pyle said.

OUPD Lt. Tim Ryan said his department notices trends in locations on campus by the types of crime that occur.

“Areas with high concentration are where most things happen,” Ryan said.

This can include areas like residence halls or Alden Library, where students leave out their devices, such as laptops and cell phones, which can be stolen.

This year’s Welcome Weekend saw no impact on the number of reports in comparison to previous years, and both departments were prepared for the students’ return to Athens.

Nothing out of the ordinary happened during Welcome Weekend this year. APD had similar arrest numbers as a normal weekend during the school year, Pyle said.

“Comparing it to the past couple of years, it was quiet,” Pyle said.

The overall report numbers from OUPD were the same as last year’s Welcome Weekend. Reports only increased from the summer since the majority of the population returned to the city, Ryan said.

Some of the most frequent crimes that occurred during the 10 days were alcohol-related, thefts and sexual assault reports.

There were seven alcohol offenses that happened during Welcome Weekend. Reports included underage consumption of alcohol, disorderly conduct by intoxication and open container.

OUPD took six of the reports. Most of the reports took place in or near residence halls as well as downtown locations.

Most of the students who get caught for alcohol are underclassmen since they are more likely to get caught, Ryan said.

There were also eight reported thefts to OUPD and APD. Four of the reports came from residence halls while others were from the downtown area and Walmart.

During the 10 days, OUPD and APD had four reports of sex offsenses.

On Aug. 29, OUPD took two sex offense reports. One report was of citations issued to a man for public indecency and underage consumption of alcohol. The other report was for a man who was charged with sexual imposition.

On Aug. 31, APD took a report of sexual battery by a woman on the city’s west end by an unknown subject. APD also took a report of rape on Sept. 1 from a woman on the south side of the city by a known subject. Both matters are currently under investigation.

From Aug. 23 to Nov. 12, the Ohio University Police Department and the Athens Police Department had 404 reports, according to reports and crime logs.

Of all of the reports, 62 were service calls to OUPD, which can be requests for medical service by Athens County EMS or a well-being check on a person. In most of the reports on the OUPD log, the person was determined to be OK or refused medical treatment.

“We respond to every EMS on campus that we can,” OUPD Lt. Tim Ryan said. “We don't make it to all of them, but we do respond to most of them.”

Most of the time, EMS calls can be that someone else may see a problem and calls for assistance. When EMS arrives, the person says they didn’t need someone to call, Ryan said.

OUPD responded to 62 service calls, including well-being checks and requests for ACEMS services. There were also 19 reports of an emotionally-disturbed person that OUPD and APD had responded to.

OUPD also logged 41 reports of operations, including EDC deployment and canine deployment.

OUPD issued 31 traffic citations and took 11 crash reports.

There were also 36 reports for alcohol-related incidents to OUPD and APD, including four reports of underage consumption of alcohol.

APD and OUPD received 58 reports of theft. There were also 22 reports of destruction of property to OUPD.

APD and OUPD took 10 reports of assault. There were also 12 reports of sex offenses, including sexual battery and rape.

Pyle said APD does not send out every report. The department sends reports as they come in and get approved.

“There are certainly times where reports fall through the cracks for a variety of reasons, like they're not finished with it, and they come back from days off, and nobody thinks to send it out as a ... report,” Pyle said.

Some reports on the OUPD log and APD log do not include specific locations. Some are labeled as off-campus miscellaneous, a street or without a location listed.

Ryan said off-campus miscellaneous locations are usually not in OUPD’s jurisdiction or not in a specific location that can be labeled.

Street names are usually listed for traffic stops since it’s not at a specific location and do not want to report it to the wrong location. Locations are not be listed for sex offenses, including reports of rape and sexual battery.

“We don't want to attribute it to an address because it didn't happen at the address,” Pyle said.

Pyle said he believes APD and OUPD are on par with calls for service compared to previous years.

“We might have more crime reports than (OUPD), but they may have more service requests than we do,” Pyle said.

There were fewer arrests on Halloween weekend compared to last year.

There were 18 arrests and service calls during the Athens Halloween Block Party on Oct. 26. In 2018, there were 21 people arrested by APD and OUPD, according to a previous Post report.

There were not many problems on Halloween since there wasn’t much of a crowd, Ryan said.

“It was (the) lamest Halloween as long as I've ever been here,” Ryan said. “It didn't feel like much.”

Nobody could move down the streets since the crowd was packed shoulder-to-shoulder when Ryan was a student at OU between 1999 and 2003. Ryan said each year, it seems like the crowd keeps getting smaller.

For this year’s block party, the city wanted the events to be more family-friendly and not just for college students. The block party was shut down at 11:25 p.m.

APD Chief Tom Pyle said his department still plans on a large crowd by bringing in outside agencies for the event, according to a previous Post report. He also noticed the decrease in attendance over the past couple of years and said he would eventually like to not have to bring in other agencies.

AUTHOR: Ellen Wagner
EDITOR: Ian McKenzie
COPY EDITOR: Bre Offenberger
WEB DEVELOPMENT: Taylor Johnston