A Lurking Problem on Campus: Larcenies
By: Alla Levina and Jazmin Woodson
Despite more than 50 sworn police officers, 48 security guards, and 800 cameras around campus, the occurrence of larcenies has been an escalating problem at the Old Dominion University campus. According to the ODU Police Department Daily Crime and Fire Log, larcenies occur on a daily basis and are a major concern of the student body around the campus, at the residence halls, and student housing surrounding ODU.
After interviewing several students, it is evident that these reoccurring incidents are beginning to become the norm at Old Dominion University. Maya Sapp, a sophomore at the university, explained an experience of hers in Café 1201 in the Webb Center.
“I literally left my backpack for five minutes to go get some food and when I came back, it was gone.” Maya’s ipad, mac book pro, and textbooks were all in the backpack when it disappeared. “ My things were never found… It’s sad that I can’t even leave my belongings on campus without them mysteriously ‘walking away’… now I know not to ever leave my stuff unattended again.”
Another occurrence that is currently under investigation involves a 23-year-old Alex Levor Rodgers, who also goes by the names “A-Rod” and “Chad”. ODU Police said Rodgers is a suspect in a series of burglaries, including one that happened on November 11, 2013 in the Gresham East residence hall. Rodgers was described as approximately 5’8” tall, 152 pounds and a slim build, with close-cut black hair, brown eyes, a mole under his right eye near the cheek, numerous tattoos on his chest and arms, and possibly a thin mustache and/or goatee. ODU Police said Rodgers is wanted in connection to burglary, assault on a law enforcement officer, credit card theft, forgery, larcenies, and trespassing. He has no history of violence but is still considered a fugitive in the eyes of the Old Dominion University Campus Police. Though this is an ongoing investigation, Lieutenant Keitha Boone with the ODU Police Department has informed that he will eventually be caught. He is known to frequent the campuses of ODU, Norfolk State University, and the surrounding neighborhoods of both campuses. These types of incidents are a primary cause of frustration and concern of the ODU students.
Interviews with students directly reflect a sense of irritation and distress in regards to the constant crime related incidents the ODU campus is notoriously gaining a reputation for. “I was playing basketball in the SRC and someone stole my phone… there are criminals walking around the campus and there is nothing being done about it,” says Cameron Hicks, a victim of a recent larceny incident.
According to studentreviews.com, a website that allows students to submit feedback and opinions regarding college campuses around the nation, one student states, “Dorms don’t feel safe since they have had several home invasions on campus in the past couple of years and Norfolk has a high violent crime rate”.
Another report states, “Security is in the dorm at night but during the day you are on your own. I know so many people that had their laptops and other belongings stolen.” It is evident that larcenies affect a large number of the student body and the safety of ODU students is a significant problem.
According to the CityRating.com, “Historically, crime rates in Norfolk have consistently been the highest in Hampton Roads. In 2012, there were 1,445 violent crimes reported. The violent crime rate in Norfolk is 189 percent higher than the average in Virginia”.
In addition, the statistics of larcenies reported within the past three years show a rise in the crime rate.
So what is being done about these issues?
The Norfolk Police Department has increased the amount of patrols and officers around the campus. The Norfolk Police Department has also created an interactive online map called the CrimeView that allows students to follow the crime around the area and as a result expand the awareness of dangerous situations occurring.
Norfolk Police encourages students to familiarize themselves with emergency phones and call boxes on campus, walk on well-lit paths, use the campus escort service, keep doors locked, do not invite strangers into their dorms, limit their drinking, do not leave valuables in unsecure areas, and report suspicious activity.
In addition, the Norfolk Police Department is establishing a new patrol system called Hotspot policing, a strategy to combat crime around the campus. As reported by ABC 13 news, “The Norfolk Police Department is adding officers to watch the campus and the areas around it since the weekend beating death of Paul Johnson. The initiative includes patrols by cars and on foot and crackdowns on known trouble areas”. Police departments nationwide use the Hotspot technique in order to focus on small geographical areas where crime is high and predictable.
The Norfolk Police Department is also using “compstat” program to identify spikes in crime and determine the target areas. However, Officer Chris Evans explains that this tactic is only efficient in the short-term period instead of a long-term solution. “Inevitably the problem subsides and something else pops up in the city and then we address that,” said Officer Evans.
While considerable efforts are being made to address the safety concerns at ODU, students still seek hope for a safer campus and a significant decline in predominant crimes such as larcenies.