UCF releases new crime stats; sex offenses increase

Theft of car parts up 340 percent at Orlando campus

ORLANDO, Fla. - The University of Central Florida released new crime statistics this week and the numbers show troublesome increases in aggravated assaults and forcible sex offenses.

The data come from UCF's own reports released in accordance with the Clery Act and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's annual crime statistics. The Clery Act is the federal law that requires colleges and universities to publish crime reports on and around their campuses.

Crime is up at UCF in several categories from 2011 to 2012. Aggravated assaults and forcible sex offenses, including rapes, are both up 40 percent. Thefts of car parts are also up a staggering 340 percent.

UCF police say thieves are specifically targeting tires and rims on campus.

In raw numbers, UCF police report seven forcible sex offenses in 2011. That number almost doubled to 13 offenses in 2012. In the category of aggravated assaults, 2011 saw 12 reported. In 2012 that number rose to 21.

Students tell Local 6 the sex crimes worry them the most.

"I always try to walk with people or come here during the day. If I have to study, I just stay at home and study because that's something that scares me," said Juliana Berros.

The university just warned students several weeks ago when deputies reported a man raped a student at gunpoint near campus.

UCF spokesman Chad Binette said an email went out to students last week urging them to take safety more seriously and use the safety resources the campus has available. Binette said the e-mail was not in response to any particular incident.

UCF says the uptick in sex offenses and assaults may be due to a renewed push over the last year to encourage students to report these types of crimes.

Overall, Binette says campus crime is down over the last four years.

"We've seen in the last four years a roughly 20 percent drop in crime even though our enrollment has gone up about 20 percent," Binette said.

He pointed out several safety features of the nearly 60,000-student campus, including emergency phones and a police escort program available to students seven nights a week.

Several students told Local 6 they feel safe on campus.

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