Theft reported as number one crime at Murray State

Photo by Chalice Keith/TheNews

Story by Ashley Traylor, Staff writer

Chief of police and director of Murray State police, James Herring, said theft is the number one crime at Murray State, followed by criminal mischief and drug offenses.

Since Jan. 1, 17 thefts under $500 have been reported, and two thefts over $500 have been reported.  

Herring said theft is a common crime at universities because there is a large concentration of people in a small area, making college campuses vulnerable.

Similarly, 18 thefts were reported at Western Kentucky University since January.

Herring said theft on Murray State’s campus occurs the most on Thursdays and Fridays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. He said theft occurs on the weekdays because that is when the most people are on campus.

Herring said often students are securing their property for the first time, but protecting property from theft is developed over time.

“That means that college students are more likely to leave items unsecured and available for theft,” Herring said. “Criminals know that.”

Theft has two categories: under $500 and over $500.

The value of the items is provided by the owner when the items are reported stolen.

Herring said items under $500 are of value. These items often include bicycles, phones and parking permits.

Herring said consequences are based on the value of the stolen item. Kentucky’s law assigns different penalties to each value range.

According to the 514.030 statute, theft is a Class A misdemeanor unless:

  • The property taken is a firearm (Class D felony).
  • The property is an anhydrous ammonia (Class D felony).
  • The property is one or more controlled substance valued at less than $10,000 (Class D felony).
  • The value of the property is more than $500 and less than $10,000 (Class D felony).
  • The value of the property is more than $10,000 and less than $1 million (Class C felony).
  • The value of the property is more than $1 million and less than $10 million (Class B felony).
  • The value of the property is more than $10 million (Class B felony).

Herring said although crime is a common issue, theft at Murray State has decreased 31 percent from 2015 to 2016. In 2015, 89 thefts were reported, and in 2016, 61 were reported.

He said officers are using the website RAIDS, a community crime map, to target areas and times when theft occurs the most.

To protect belongings and reduce the risk of theft, Herring said students should not leave their laptops unattended in the library, cars unlocked or cellphones on the sidelines while playing sports. He said students should use a high quality lock on their bicycles, as well.