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Campus police strive to keep vandalism to a minimum

 

With the end fall semester fast approaching and only two home games left in the season, it is safe to say the University of Mississippi campus has fared well this semester, as far as vandalism is concerned.

Only 19 vandalism cases were reported to the University Police Department during the football season. Most of these cases have taken place in or near the residence halls and Greek houses. The other common places for vandalism are the parking lots during football game weekends, UPD’s Crime Prevention Coordinator Thelma Curry said.

Most parking lot cases include scratches, etches or a mirror being knocked off of a vehicle. There are very little cases where people have tampered with the inner workings of the vehicles, and these types of incidents are more often personal attacks rather than random acts, officers said.

For the most part, the vandalism that takes place on campus is done as a prank, dare or is due to intoxication.

“It’s not where you have a group of folks who go out and say, ‘Let’s just go out and do this for the meanness of it;’ it’s just something that happens,” Curry said.

Many people don’t think anything at the time of some of the cases reported. 

Another common form of vandalism is the knocking down or stealing of signs. The most commonly stolen on-campus signs include the “police parking only” and the “18 mph” signs, officers said.

“It’s mostly college students stealing the signs who feel that they would make a nice, new addition to their residence halls or Greek houses. However, as a whole, theft of these signs is not a major problem on campus,” UPD Patrol Captain Michael Harmon said. “I don’t think they really mean it in a malicious way, I just think that it’s their way of having fun.” 

The housing department and UPD are in good-standing with each other and often, at the end of the semester, someone from housing will call UPD and return left signs to the police department who then get them back to the physical plant department or to the correct place or person.

Students who are caught stealing signs or with the stolen sign can face a variety of consequences.

“Usually, if we can find out where the sign came from and talk to those people, most of the time they don’t want to press charges or have anything done to the person that had it, they just want the sign back,” Harmon said. “If we can get the sign back without having to go through the legal process, we’d rather go that route.”

If the owner does decide to press charges against the person he or she could be facing criminal misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on how much damage is done to the property. Also, a student could be put through the university’s judicial system.

The UPD takes measures to ensure the protection of personal and university property.

“We try to patrol and if we see something out of place or somebody doing something that they’re not supposed to, we’ll stop and talk to them,” UPD officer Jeremy Cook said. “Even if we see a suspicious person just standing by a car, or sitting in their car we’ll stop and talk to them.”

Vandalism is an unpredictable crime and the best way to prevent it is by precaution.

“All you can do is make folks aware and have people who report stuff as they see it happen,” Curry said. “You just try to educate folks that this is not cool and it is malicious mischief and it is a crime to do it.”