Larcenies, break-ins up at U-M, but police say arrests should stem tide
Larcenies and break-ins are up in 2012, but officials with the University of Michigan Public Safety Department believe a couple of key arrests may help stem the tide.
Interim Police Chief Joe Piersante, at a department public meeting Thursday, said police arrested Jason Russ, a 41-year-old Ypsilanti man, was charged on March 17 for four cases of larcenies in university buildings where credit cards were stolen, according to police. He's being held in the Washtenaw County Jail on a 10 percent of $10,000 bond, according to spokeswoman Diane Brown.
Lt. Bob Neumann said elevated larceny numbers, up 26 percent from year-to-date statistics in 2011, can often be caused by a small amount of people. He said police are still working to identify the partner of the man police believe is responsible for many of the credit card thefts.
“2012 has not been as kind to us as 2011 was,” Neumann said.
The meeting, held Thursday morning in the Michigan Union’s Pendleton Room, was the third and final public meeting for the department of the school year. About 14 people were in attendance to hear department officials discuss crime trends, locations and updates on investigations on campus.
Russ had a preliminary hearing scheduled for Thursday, Brown said.
Larcenies continue to be the most frequently reported crime on campus, with the Central Campus area the hottest spot for potential criminals to go hunting for victims. Usually, most of the items stolen are laptop computers and cell phones, according to police.
Since the first of the year, 33 laptops, 24 cell phones and 12 bikes have been reported stolen, according to department statistics. The most frequently targeted building has been the Hatcher Graduate Library, where nine larcenies have been reported, according to statistics.
The most frequently stolen laptop computers have been MacBooks and iPhones have been the most frequently stolen cell phones, according to statistics.
The department’s Special Problems Team, the creation of which was part of the department’s goals for the semester, played a big role in the credit card larcenies and is still helping to identify other criminals, according to Sgt. Jason Forsberg. Forsberg is the head of the team.
Department detectives also made another major arrest in the unarmed robbery that resulted in a crime alert being sent out last week.
Detective Margie Pillsbury said police arrested a Saginaw man for robbing a U-M student who reported she was punched in the face while walking in the Nichols Arboretum on March 19. The man reportedly took her cell phone and cash before fleeing the area, according to police.
Pillsbury said police identified a possible suspect after working with U-M Hospital Security, who provided security camera footage of the suspect leaving the area. Police were then able to track the cell phone’s location to Saginaw, where the suspect's parole officer arrested the man on unrelated charges. He’s scheduled to be arraigned on the unarmed robbery charge on April 10, Pillsbury said.
“Pretty much everyone in our department did something to help with this case and we think it will be a successful case,” she said.
Note: This story has been updated to include up-to-date information on Jason Russ' court case and the spelling of Lt. Bob Neumann's name.