Between 2016 and 2018, there was a total of 331 reported cases of grand and petit larceny on Southern Miss’ Hattiesburg campus.
Freshman English major Max Menard had his bike stolen at the Math Zone Oct. 23.
“I left it there overnight,” Menard said. “I did not think it would be stolen because there is plenty of foot traffic in the area and a decent amount of lighting.”
Chief of University Police Rusty Keyes said petit larceny, which is theft of property valued under $500, is the most common crime.
“Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to take extra precautions to prevent theft of their own or university property,” Keyes said.
Keyes said securing belongings, removing valuables from plain sight and keeping vehicles locked at all times help reduce the chance of theft. Valuables left in plain sight can make you a target for theft by tempting criminals to break into your vehicle.
Senior graphic design and public relations major Marissa Haas said University Police told students not to leave valuables alone when on campus at resident assistant training.
“We were told when people leave stuff, 80% of the time their stuff got stolen,” Haas said. “I would not feel comfortable doing that.”
Senior elementary education major Ashleigh Jambon is a resident assistant at Southern Miss. She said stolen laundry is a recurring issue.
“Students do not understand that you cannot just freely walk away from your clothes and expect them to be there when you return,” Jambon said.
Jambon said, other than stolen clothes, there has not been stolen property issues. She also said University Police told resident assistants to tell students to report missing or stolen property to the police. She said residents are annoyed by the number of safety precautions that are in place.
“Residents have complained about being too safe with how many times they have to swipe in from entering the building and getting to their room,” Jambon said. “ResLife is working on bettering the student life experience with that in the upcoming semesters.”
Jambon said ResLife does not prepare resident assistants to help with safety because they are just taught to tell people “do not drive drunk” and “safety in numbers.”
Haas said she feels safe on the Southern Miss campus.
“I can walk around at night, and it is still spooky, but I do not feel like I will be attacked,” Haas said. “I went to another school, and it was bigger, and I did not feel safe there like I do here.”
Menard said he feels somewhat safe on campus, but after having his bike stolen, he has to be more aware of his surroundings.
Keyes said Southern Miss continues to improve the safety of the community through a combination of cutting-edge technology, specialized training, increased security and student input.
“UPD is the first higher-education law enforcement agency in the state to earn national accreditation and is currently one of only two in Mississippi to be nationally accredited,” Keyes said.
National accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies comes after an agency has proven it has satisfactorily completed a continuous process of agency-wide self-evaluation, meeting the criteria of 189 standards set by the commission.
In an article by Leada Gore on al.com, Southern Miss is considered to be the safest college campus in Mississippi.