Crime and Punishment

Due to the rapid response time to any suspicious on-campus activity by the Resident Security Officers, we’ve come to think of UCSD as the last place for any kind of serious crime. It is, after all, situated in the affluent community of La Jolla, where the only complaints seem to be of noise.

Don’t be fooled — on-campus crime created a demand for a fair share of yellow caution tape. In 2011 alone, on-campus criminal reports totalled six accounts of forcible sexual offense, six accounts of aggravated assault, 29 accounts of burglary, 18 motor vehicle thefts and 106 liquor law arrests. Campus police officers appear to be swarmed with work.

“I can say that we’re very busy right now,” said a UC Police Department officer, who asked to remain anonymous. “As the economy gets worse, we might expect more crime.”

As indicated by the most recent and past UC San Diego Annual Security Reports, constant theft is the most common problem. And it makes sense; UCSD is a concentrated hub of unmonitored laptops and bikes — prime real estate for any grand theft scheme.

“People tend to leave their stuff out because it’s a nice area,” the officer said. “There’s more crime in La Jolla than people generally think because a lot is not made readily known to the public.”

According to a Dec. 20, 2010 Crime Alert Bulletin, three accounts of grand theft, all of which took place at either Geisel Library or Price Center, were investigated by the UCSD Police Department. The suspect targeted unattended backpacks and an unattended laptop.

Even known criminals have frequented the campus. In a Dec. 14, 2011 Wanted Person Bulletin, it was brought to the public’s attention that “Timothy Jon Hasper is a known thief that frequents the UCSD campus to steal bicycles.”

But it’s not just petty theft that’s been making the crime briefs of the news page. Over the past couple of years, students have been receiving almost a consistent stream of emails from UCSD administration about more violent crimes — eerily, many of them fall on or around finals week.

Subject lines of emails from the UCSD Police Department have read: “Attempted Kidnapping on 5/20 @ 8:00pm,” “Black’s Beach Sexual Assault,” or “Car Fire Homicide Update.”

All of the headlines spoke of stories that could send collective chills down the spines of the student population.

The attempted kidnapping occurred at 8 p.m. on May 20, 2011, just west of Geisel. A male reportedly placed a paper bag over a female victim’s head and attempted to lug her off the pathway. The victim was able to break free and flee from the scene. A similar incident occurred on 1 Miramar Street nearly 10 months later on March 14, 2012, and likewise, the victim managed to escape. On Dec. 6, 2011, a sexual assault occurred midway between Black’s Beach and Gliderport, and according to the victim, alcohol was involved.

Though reports of kidnappings and assaults are always unsettling, perhaps the most alarming case concerns the first recorded murder on campus in UCSD’s recent history — on Oct. 29, 2010 at 9:20 p.m., the body of 38-year-old Carlsbad resident Lorena Gonzalez was found in a car consumed by flames in Lot 701 off Voigt Drive. An autopsy ruled the case to be a homicide, and police investigations led to the victim’s estranged husband, Julio Angel Garcia-Puente who was eventually located by Mexican authorities in the Otay neighborhood of Tijuana. Garcia-Puente surrendered to U.S. authorities at the San Ysidro Port of Entry and was arrested and incarcerated.

Of course, murder and burning vehicles aren’t a common occurrence, but they’re still a reason for caution — it’s a reminder that despite our overwhelming population of party-busting RSOs, our well-behaved campus isn’t immune to a crime scene that could be from an episode of “CSI”. And with the expansion of the student body, coupled by the downturn in our economy, there seems to be more to worry about these days.

“Protect your valuables, and be aware,” the officer said.

The police urge students to take simple precautions:. Never hesitate to use campus emergency telephones to report suspicious activity to UCSD police, and take advantage of the UCSD Safety Escort Program (the escorts are trained in small talk). And be extra careful during finals week — a midnight walk to Goody’s for a study break should be never be taken alone.

Campus Escort Program: (858) 534-9255

UCSD Police: (858) 534-4357

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