Thefts on decline in Kent

Rob Rompala

The city of Kent is on pace for an estimated 320 thefts this school year with the Kent Police Department and Kent State University Police Department aiming to bring that number down.

Thefts are slowly on the decline in the city of Kent, but the university reported 21 on-campus thefts in just the first week of school, and 46 in the city of Kent from Aug. 26 to Oct. 3.

Number of thefts monthly decline in Kent

2012: 60

2013: 58

2014: 46

*Statistics from Aug. 26 to Oct. 3 from Kent Police Department

Kent Police records show 46 reported thefts this semester. Last year at the same time, 58 thefts were reported, and 60 in 2012. Compared to previous years, thefts have decreased minimally. There were 344 thefts reported during the 2012-2013 school year and 299 during 2013-2014. Kent is on track to have about 40 thefts per month. 

“The majority of things we deal with is of course underage drinking probations, but thefts, to me, is a number that’s higher than it should be,” said Michquel Penn, community resource officer for Kent Campus Police.

The city and university police departments practice joint jurisdiction to aid and assist each other within the regulated areas. Joint jurisdiction is beneficial for both departments when illegal activity happens. For example, if a crime occurs between Crain Avenue and Kent Ravenna Road, the campus police and Kent City Police have equal authority.

Underage drinking, disorderly conduct and noise violations are consistently the most recurring illegal activity on a college campus, but Penn said these crimes shouldn’t overshadow the importance of theft and other crimes.

Handling theft 

Theft is considered a first-degree misdemeanor, a minor offense against the law. The maximum penalty for a theft is six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Depending on the seriousness of the offense, the accused could get arrested or written a summons, which is a ticket to appear at the county courthouse in addition to paying the victim for what was stolen.

Those arrested for theft are brought into the police station to complete booking paperwork. Then, police will determine a person’s bond for release, and a court date is issued. A person will receive a lower bond if he or she lives closer to the courthouse, as they have a greater chance of appearing at their court date.

The accused can leave the police station if he or she pays the bond, but if they’re not able to pay, then they’re put in a holding cell. The Kent Police department is only licensed to hold males in its holding cell. If a crime happens on a Friday, a person will be held until Monday if they can’t post bond. 

Although some reported thefts are difficult to solve — such as something being stolen out of an unlocked car or a laptop from a house party — city police usually find the culprit.

“We are pretty decent at catching people who run out of a store with something,” Lt. Jim Prusha of the Kent Police said. “The majority of the time we are catching people.”

Prusha discusses thefts with Kent residents at area apartment complexes and educates both college students and permanent residents on what to do when something is stolen. He urges people to call quickly if they notice a theft and for people to always lock their cars and apartments. He also organizes a neighborhood block watch and assists in setting up alarm systems.

“We are doing some effort in teaching people about theft, and are always looking for more ways,” Prusha said.

Contact Rob Rompala at [email protected].