As the hunt for off-campus housing begins this spring, students strive to integrate safety into their daily lifestyles to feel protected in neighborhoods of high crime around the Tempe campus.
Spring months are peak times for students at ASU to start look at new living arrangements in order to have first pick of their favorite places to live. As of 2011, the city of Tempe’s online crime map shows that the most crime in Tempe occurs north of Broadway Road, south of the 202 Freeway, along Rural Road, within a mile perimeter of ASU’s campus. The most frequent crimes occur around the Mill Avenue District.
According to College Prowler’s campus housing website, 81 percent of undergraduate students live off-campus. The most popular neighborhoods are along streets such as Mill Avenue, Hardy Drive, Apache Boulevard, Southern Avenue and McAllister Avenue.
Tempe Police spokeswoman Molly Enright said in an email that the department responded to more than 150,000 calls for services in 2012. She said the most common reported crime was burglary, which shows consistent reports of around 1,500 incidents per year since 2008. The city of Tempe’s website crime map shows most of these crimes occur in areas within a mile of ASU’s Tempe campus.
Communication junior Stephanie Pedroza chose to live in the Hayden Cove Townhome Community off McClintock Road and Apache Boulevard, because it was a cheap last-minute decision located near a light rail station.
“The community looked nice and neat outside, but outside the community is a little dangerous,” she said. “There is cop action (every two weeks).”
Pedroza has never been involved with a dangerous crime, but she has close contact with police investigations. During the past year, the neighborhoods surrounding her complex have had a hostage situation and a homicide.
She said police blockades that prevent her from returning to her neighborhood are concerning.
“It scares me, because I can’t even get into my own home,” she said.
Pedroza said she does not feel safe alone in her house at night and always has the front door, back door and garage door locked as precaution. Her complex recently enacted a neighborhood watch program to patrol the community and check on the residents, she said.
The most common crimes in Pedroza’s neighborhood are sexual assault and thefts of items in parked vehicles, according to Regional Analysis and Information Sharing (RAIDS) Online, a website that the Tempe Police Department provides crime statistics. However, the broader area around the Tempe campus shows common occurrences of theft and residential burglary.
Kinesiology junior Katie O’Brien said she moved from Pedroza’s complex to a house in a suburban neighborhood north of Southern Avenue because her family was concerned about recent car thefts in the community near where she parked her car.
Similar to Pedroza, O’Brien said she felt safe in the area because she was smart and aware of bad situations. She recommends that new residents keep doors locked, make friends with neighbors to watch out for each other and pay attention to who comes in and out of the neighborhood.
Enright said Tempe Police patrol 24 hours a day, seven days a week to prevent and respond to crime, especially in the “hot spot” locations like Mill Avenue and apartment complexes.
“Tempe Police and ASU Police often work cases together in which suspects may be targeting students on and around campus. … Patrol officers on the beat work closely with crime analysts and utilize technology to identify trends and patterns,” she said.
Enright recommends that anyone considering living in an apartment complex, popular living choices among sophomore students moving off campus for the first time, talk to the manager about security precautions or call the Tempe Police Department to see if the complex is a partner in the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program.
The Crime Free Multi-Housing Program was created by the Mesa Police Department in 1992. It allows property managers to become individually certified after completing a three-phase training program that prevents crime, drugs and gangs on apartment properties, according to its website.
Enright said the Tempe Police Department encourages young residents in these areas to stay aware of surroundings, travel in groups, let roommates know where they are going and always lock doors, windows and gates.
She said residents know their neighborhood the best, and often can tell when something is not right.
“The statistics are a measure of what already happened. … What will keep you safe is being aware of your surroundings this moment, no matter where you are,” she said. “If you have the false sense that you are safe, you may let your guard down completely. Predators will certainly take advantage of that situation.”
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