Middle Tennessee State University reported 41 larceny and theft crimes and 9 burglaries in 2020, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s 2020 “Crime on Campus” report that was recently released.
The annual report compiles data from colleges and universities across the state through the Tennessee Incident Based Reporting System. The report says there was a total overall 33.5 percent decrease in the number of crimes reported from 2019 to 2020.
On average, reported numbers for larceny or theft make up 26.3 percent of all reported offenses, according to a news release from the TBI.
MTSU saw a decrease in reported thefts. In 2019, the university is listed as having 73 total “Larceny/Theft” offenses. That number dropped to 41 in 2020 with 22 labelled as “Theft From Building,” six as “Theft from Motor Vehicle” and one as “Theft from Coin Machine.” There were 12 additional offenses labelled as “Theft-All Other Larceny.”
One “Theft of Motor Vehicle” was listed separately and not included in the 41 total “Larceny / Theft” crimes.
Of these 41 offenses, seven were cleared. The 2020 data shows a 43.8 percent decrease in theft-released crimes.
The TBI report said the dramatic changes in crime statistics could be linked to the COVID-19 pandemic as students, staff and faculty spent less time physically on campus in the last year.
The TBI noticed a spike in the number of burglaries reported on college and university campuses. Burglary reports increased by 11.2 percent from 125 in 2019 to 139 in 2020.
For MTSU specifically, the number of burglaries more than quadrupled from two in 2019 to nine in 2020. The two burglaries from 2019 were both cleared.
MTSU Police Department Patrol Sgt. Patrick Fajardo said in an email that there isn’t necessarily a definitive cause for the rise in burglaries, but the number could be linked to similar reasons as the number of larcenies reported.
“During the pandemic, people with criminal intent may have felt like they had more of an opportunity to commit burglary without being caught,” wrote Fajardo. “Our police officers diligently patrol campus 24/7, but unfortunately we can’t be everywhere all the time.”
The TBI also saw a significant 34.2 percent decrease in the number of non-consensual sex crimes that were reported in 2020. MTSU’s numbers have remained the same for both years.
In 2019, the university reported five forcible sex crimes. Three were listed as “Forcible Rape” and two as “Forcible Fondling.” One fondling offense was cleared.
Last year, the university reported the same overall number of forcible sex crimes. Two were listed as “Forcible Rape” and three as “Forcible Fondling.” One rape and two fondling incidents were cleared.
“This report will hopefully assist law enforcement, institution administrations, and government officials in planning their efforts in the fight against crime and continue to create an awareness that crime exists as a threat in our communities,” said TBI Director David Rausch in a news release.
Fajardo encouraged MTSU campus residents to be aware of their surroundings and to secure valuable belongings. Suspicious activity should be reported to campus police at (615) 898-2424.
The full “Crime on Campus” for 2020 and all previous years can be viewed at https://bit.ly/332Duxr.