Campus sees increase in rape, vehicle theft


Liam Beran, Staff Writer

Rape and vehicle theft increased in 2021 on campus, according to the University Police (UWOPD) Clery Report, a federally mandated report of on- and near-campus crimes and referrals.

Compared to 2020, this year’s Clery Report is notable for detailing illegal activity occurring during a period with lessened COVID-19 restrictions. One rape was reported in 2020 versus five in 2021 and zero vehicle thefts were reported in 2020 versus three in 2021. 


“​The pandemic sent all of the on-campus residents off the UW Oshkosh campuses which caused crimes against people to decline greatly on campus,” Acting Chief of Police Chris Tarmann said. “Having said that, an increase in these numbers is something that we’re attentive to as a police department and we’ve worked to bring back our mission-based policing initiatives to disrupt any further increase in these numbers.” 

Tarmann made note of the Red Zone, Busted and Crosswalk initiatives, which target underage drinking and sexual violence, residence hall burglaries and pedestrian safety respectively.

“All of these missions were built to proactively reduce crimes and increase community relationships,” Tarmann said.

Referrals for drug and alcohol consumption on the Oshkosh campus shifted in the new year, with alcohol referrals increasing and drug referrals decreasing. There were 395 alcohol referrals in 2020 versus 638 in 2021 and 62 drug referrals in 2020 versus 43 in 2021. 

Tarmann said that changes in employed officers can make getting accurate statistics difficult.

“Numbers in this area can increase or decline drastically with the increase and/or reduction of a police officer working for UWO police department,” Tarmann said. “It’s a bit more difficult to track the actual numbers in this area.”

Car thefts were another crime which saw significant change from 2020 to 2021, with 2021 containing three car vehicle thefts versus 2020’s zero. 

Tarmann said that trends in motor vehicle crimes nationwide align with the occurrence of these thefts and offered advice for students to deter theft, such as utilizing steering wheel locks available from the UWOPD or not leaving valuable items in their vehicles.

Tarmann also advised students wary of catalytic converter theft to contact the UWOPD if they see any suspicious behavior.

The Advance-Titan archives– Wheel locks are one way to protect your vehicle from getting stolen. Safety precautions such as thisare recommended by UWOPD.

“[Theft occurs] when vehicles are more vulnerable because of where they are parked or how accessible it is to cut and steal the converter,” Tarmann said.

According to an article by Wisconsin Public Radio’s Diane Bezucha, “Catalytic converters are a part of a car’s exhaust system, responsible for filtering out toxins from the emissions … thieves cut out the converter in under two minutes and then sell it for the precious metals it contains, such as rhodium, palladium and platinum.”

Despite changes in crime statistics, Tarmann remains positive about the state of security at UWO.

“My current impression is that UW Oshkosh is a safe campus,” Tarmann said. “However, it is a college campus, and there are people who target the vulnerability of our student population.”

The 2022 Clery Report can be read in its entirety on the UW Oshkosh police department’s website.