Students advised to remain alert during crime spike


Kat Kelsey

Data from the NOPD major violent crime log in the 2nd District. The graph breaks down the violent crime categories from 2019-2021. (Kat Kelsey/The Maroon)

Mass Communication Professor Lisa Collins awoke early one morning last year to find her car missing from her driveway. It had been stolen. Police found it eight days later only a few miles away with a flat tire, a broken axle, and cigarette burns inside.

“It’s a very strange feeling to look in your driveway and not see your car,” Collins said.

Collins lives close to Loyola’s campus and said she was fortunate that the damage caused by the theft was covered by her insurance. The car incident occurred the weekend before Thanksgiving 2020. Collins said the experience was a frightening wake up call to be more alert and cautious about crime.

Her family is not the only one to be victimized by a recent spike in crime rates. The New Orleans Police Department’s Public Affairs Division said in a statement that both property crimes and crimes against people have risen since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020.

Police said that people can help minimize their risk of becoming a victim of crime by remaining alert and aware, displaying confidence when walking in public, sticking to populated areas, and trusting their instincts.

“I still feel safe in my neighborhood because I know my neighbors and we all look out for each other,” Collins said. “But we are more cautious at night.”

She said that she hopes others in the Loyola community will learn from her story.

“You’re going to school in a city, and it may feel very safe on campus, but just the block over is off campus so you just have to be aware. You need to pay attention, don’t be on your phone when you’re getting out of your car or an Uber, don’t leave stuff in your car because it’s too much of a pain to bring it into your dorm room,” she said. “Those are the things you should be paying attention to because we live in a city. Crime is going to happen. And the more you pay attention, the less likely you are to become a victim.”

According to NOPD crime data, there have been 37 instances of violent crime in the city so far in 2021 and 44 incidents of violent crime reported in all of 2020.

Police also said that if confronted by someone attempting to rob you, you should always comply and report the incident as soon as you get to safety instead of trying to confront them.

“If you are the victim of a crime, see a crime occurring or have knowledge of a crime occurring, please contact police immediately,” NOPD said, “While we continue to arrest individuals involved in these crimes, having the most accurate information from victims and/or witnesses can greatly increase investigators’ efforts to locate and arrest those responsible.”

Collins said that while she hopes people will be cautious about crime, she doesn’t want them to overreact.

“I don’t want students to be scared,” she said. “But I do want you to be smart and be safe.”