Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

How to stay safe during holiday crime

Photo by Carson Folio
City police section off Fourth Avenue and Smithfield Street last Tuesday during Thanksgiving break, when a safety incident occurred that led to negotiations.

The holiday season is here, and according to Fox Business, this brings a wave of crime as well.  

The National Retail Federation found in its 2022 National Retail Security Survey that total losses from shrink – the term retailers often use for theft and other types of inventory losses – increased “roughly 4%, coming in at $94.5 billion in 2021.”  

During Target’s third-quarter earnings call in mid-November, CFO Michael Fiddelke said a factor affecting Target’s gross margin is “inventory shortage, or shrink, which is a growing problem facing all retailers.” 

“This is an industry-wide problem that is often driven by criminal networks,” Fiddelke said.  

Retail crime and theft are just a fraction of the crime that occurs in Downtown Pittsburgh. There are carjackings, shootings and harassment as well.  

Public Safety did not respond in time for publication. More information on crime around campus will be provided next week. 

Hannah Madrid, a sophomore dance major, moved off campus this year and noticed a difference in how safe she felt Downtown.  

“The walk to and from campus can make me feel really uneasy sometimes, whether it’s just people acting strange on the street or sometimes outright street harassment,” Madrid said. “Also, I’ve noticed a lot more point alert messages than last year. I’m not sure if that’s because they’re just utilizing the system more or if there actually is an increase in the crime rate Downtown.”  

The Point Alert messaging system is an automated text messaging service students can opt-into. This service aims to keep students updated and aware of criminal activity going on Downtown.  

Grace Thomas, a sophomore sports arts and entertainment management major, said that she hasn’t noticed an increase or decrease in point alert messages, but the number of them can be nerve wracking.  

“I don’t feel safe walking around the city; I’m constantly clutching my bag and looking around to make sure nobody is following me,” Thomas said. “I feel safe within my actual dorm, but as for the lobbies, I don’t, especially since my friend and I got followed into Lawrence Hall at the beginning of the year, when there were students on campus but no security guard on duty at the front desk.”  

There have been instances of this occurring on multiple occasions, where an unauthorized person has entered Lawrence Hall behind a student. Typically, there is a security guard on duty to handle such situations, but not in Thomas’s case. Thomas did not call campus security or alert them that this occurred.  

Lately, students have been alerted of several incidents through Point Alert. An incident left Boulevard of the Allies and Third Street closed for a few hours last Tuesday morning during break. 

Police were called to the 300 block for a male in crisis. Negotiators were in contact with the individual, who was put “safely in custody following extensive negotiations.” He was also evaluated by medics on the scene. No other updates have been made.

Some general tips on how to stay safe during increased crime during the holidays include the following from the National Neighborhood Watch:

  • Make sure doors are locked.
  • Ask a trusted friend or family member to watch your home or apartment while you are away.
  • Don’t advertise expensive items on your social media or talk about them in public spaces.
  • Stay extra aware of your surroundings and wear purses and bags across your body.
  • Report any suspicious activity.
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