Rates of robbery, aggravated assault, and burglary have risen in the U-District community this year. Greek row in particular has been, and still is, facing an onslaught of break-ins.
Robbery has increased by 57 percent in comparison to 2014, aggravated assault has risen 41 percent, and burglary has risen 37 percent, according to the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) crime dashboard: a subpage of statistical analysis on their crime-data page online.
“We are a data-driven police department,” said Patrick Michaud, SPD public informations officer. “Everything we do, we keep a number on. We need to make the most highly-educated decision we can in how we are going to police the city.”
Between August and October, Greek row saw a series of break-ins and thefts.
Only two of the eight thefts were able to put a price estimate on their stolen items, totaling $10,608. The other six incidents included the following stolen items: laptops, game consoles, iPhones, and a wallet.
The SPD North burglary detectives are working on the cases.
Julia Severance, the president of the UW sorority governing council, Panhellenic, has been watching these events unfold and affect her community for some time now.
“It hasn’t just been happening over the past months,” Severance said. “Over a year, really, we’ve been dealing with security issues.”
She says the sororities hold meetings with the UWPD and SPD, in which officers go through each sorority to check lights and security measures, and create a list of recommendations to ensure a safer house.
Currently, every single sorority has a security camera, except perhaps the newest one, according to Severance.
“If we can find a security camera on one of the homes,” Michaud said, “it’s just a matter of a week or two for finding the people who did it.”
Despite SPD’s statistics, Severance feels the bulk of break-ins happened last year.
“There was definitely a change in emotion,” Severance said. “A lot of women weren’t feeling safe in their own homes and in their community. Even walking to a library alone.”
In contrast, the Interfraternity Council (IFC) president, Nate Stockman, has been fortunate enough to not directly know anyone in the fraternities who have dealt with theft.
The only interactions the IFC sets up with the SPD and UWPD are informational talks between the officers and the presidents of each fraternity about how to register personal belongings with their online database. Stockman said the IFC relies on the presidents to relay that information to their own members.
Greek row isn’t a part of UWPD’s territory per se, though they can work in partnership with SPD on some things. Greek row isn’t officially on-campus property, and that’s why these break-ins and thefts have fallen into the hands of SPD.
SPD designates commanders and officers to what they call micro-communities. Each commander is responsible for that micro-community and what happens inside it, including how the statistics are doing.
“They have made a point of holding the commanders responsible for the numbers, what is happening in their precincts,” Michaud said.
They have meetings twice a month where they go over the numbers publicly.
“It’s not a private shaming if your precinct goes wayside for a month,” Michaud said. “Everybody is going to hear about it. There’s none of this ‘I’m too proud to ask for help’ type of thing.”
Michaud advises people to lock their doors and windows when they’re not home, or even if they are home. Another suggestion is to put a wooden dowel in the window if you choose to leave it open.
“It’s cheap too, honestly,” Michaud said. “It’s a good way to hold on to your stuff. Cheaper than buying a laptop.”
UWPD commander, Steve Rittereiser, also advises people to be aware of their surroundings. Another tip is to have good communication and coordination with roommates. Lock doors, know each other’s schedules, and take note when someone is going to be gone for the weekend.
Both Rittereiser and Michaud said that if someone sees anything suspicious, they should call the police immediately. Take note of characteristics that stand out: hair style, an odd combination of clothes, piercings.
“Don’t get too granular on the detail because you’re not going to remember it,” Michaud said.