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Reported Campus Crime Totals Rebound To Pre-Pandemic Levels

As students returned to college campuses across the U.S., so did campus crime, alarming some parents so much that they hired their own security force.

Parents raised $40,000 to hire private security at the University of California, Berkeley to the chagrin of campus administrators. Half a dozen unarmed guards patrolled the campus for more than two weeks in March, said Sagar Jethani, a father of two sophomores. A month after Jethani dropped off his kids for their freshman year in October 2022, there was a fatal shooting near their dorm.

Jethani and other parents were concerned that crime in Berkeley seemed on the rise. A February shooting scared some parents. No one was injured, and a suspect was reportedly taken into custody. 

University spokesperson Janet Gilmore said money intended to keep Berkeley students safe would best be spent supporting the school’s police force. “Hiring private security raises a number of concerns, including the training and experience of individuals hired by such firms,” Gilmore said.

The number of crimes reported by college campuses rebounded to pre-pandemic levels in 2022.

Crime reported from nearly 6,000 institutions rose about 8% from 2019, even as enrollments dipped. The jump in offenses between 2019 and 2022 coincided with students’ post-pandemic return en masse to campuses. C

Compared with year-over-year changes before 2019, the recent spike represents the largest increase since post-secondary institutions that receive federal funding began reporting campus safety statistics.

Experts say the numbers are consistent with what colleges have been experiencing since 2013, according to S. Daniel Carter, president of the consulting firm Safety Advisors for Educational Campuses.

After a steady decline starting around 2006, the number of crimes reported by colleges and universities remained steady over the last decade.


The recent increase was mostly driven by a surge in reported motor vehicle theft, which more than doubled from 2019 and accounted for more than a quarter of offenses in 2022.

Carter said that spike could be traced to schools' changing their reporting requirements to comply with federal law. “There has been some work done to increase awareness that scooters and golf carts are motor vehicles – that could be a factor,” he said.

Government data are not yet available for 2023, so current numbers don’t account for the turmoil on college campuses amid the Israel-Hamas war. Surveys show many Muslim and Jewish students reported feeling unsafe on campus since the Oct. 7 attacks, which have prompted campus clashes as well as spikes in Islamaphobic and antisemitic incidents.


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