Wall Street Journal reporter Zachary M. Seward reports October 23 (subscription may be required) that colleges are systematically underreporting the incidence of crimes on campus.
Under a 1990 law known as the Clery Act, schools must report statistics on burglaries — but not larcenies — to the Education Department and to students and staff. Schools report larceny totals separately to the FBI for its annual report on crime in the U.S. But thefts, whether characterized as burglary or larceny, are only part of the problem of gauging campus security. Some schools have understated violent crimes such as robberies and sexual assaults.
Crime statistics are a sensitive matter for colleges, which initially resisted passage of the Clery Act. The law, named for a student murdered in 1986 at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, is intended to provide accurate assessments of campus crime for applicants, students and their parents.
Colleges have strong incentives to underreport campus crime. The Journal article suggests that underreporting is rampant.