With Ohio State students moving back into the University District, apparently so are some criminals.
An uptick in robberies around campus is common when students start moving in, said Cmdr. Chris Bowling, who oversees Zone 4 for the Columbus Division of Police.
In the past seven days, 78 reports were filed with police in Zone 4, which encompasses most of the off-campus area, according to online records. Ohio State’s police force handles problems on campus.
During a similar period last month, 64 reports were filed with Columbus police in Zone 4.
"Predators are descending on their prey a little early this year," Bowling said. "The criminals are finding out their schedule."
In addition to the typical break-ins and robberies of cellphones and wallets, a few robberies were unusually aggressive, he said.
Two incidents were reported minutes apart shortly after 10 p.m. Friday, he said. In each, two women assaulted female victims, taking purses and cellphones. Two women were arrested in connection with both crimes, Bowling said.
"To have two females, and have it be fairly aggressive — punching people in the head — was out of the ordinary."
And of about eight burglaries in the area during the past week, one on W. Oakland Avenue ended with the male residents tied up by intruders as their bikes, computers and cellphones were stolen.
Ohio State students who were attending their first day of classes yesterday said they were relatively unconcerned about crime.
"It’s one of the biggest colleges in the nation," said second-year student Brad Watson, 20. "You can’t expect zero occurrences" of crime.
Leighann Giriunas, 21, went to the Neighborhood Services and Collaboration office in the Ohio Union yesterday to pick up window alarms for her off-campus residence on Woodruff Avenue. She considers the campus relatively safe but carries a can of chemical spray — a gift from her brother.
"I’d like to think (campus is safe), but you always hear about crimes happening," she said.
This weekend, Columbus police will have extra officers in the area, Bowling said. When they see pedestrians paying more attention to cellphones than their surroundings, they intend to stop them and explain why it’s important to pay attention.
Benji Kristof, 20, hadn’t even spent a night at his E. Frambes Avenue house when it was broken into late Friday night or early Saturday morning. He and his housemates lost three laptops, an iPad, an e-cigarette and five guns.
Students can be easy targets for criminals, Kristof acknowledged.
"We’re a lot more defenseless," he said. "We’re not as careful ... When you’re 18 or 19 at home with your parents, you don’t think to lock the door. It doesn’t run through your head."