UNM crime rate worsening

blue pole on campus

By Alex Villalongja / NM Newsport

The latest report on crime at the University of New Mexico’s main campus shows things are growing worse than before the pandemic.

According to data from the 2023 Annual Security & Fire Safety Report, the year 2022 experienced the highest levels of crime over the last four years, with increases in categories such as burglary, motor vehicle theft, aggravated assault and rape.

UNM Police Chief Joseph Silva says the actual number of crimes is probably even higher than what is reported.

“Crime data provide an objective assessment,” Silva said, in a statement, “however, they don’t paint the whole picture.”

“Crime statistics only provide information of crimes that have been reported to police or other reporting sources,” Silva said. “Consequently, unreported crime is undeterminable but important to keep in mind.”

In September, UNM Police issued this alert about a person injured after being assaulted by a knife-wielding suspect near the UNM bookstore.

Data from the most recent calendar years are reported annually under the Clery Act. The report includes crimes committed on campus, at off-campus facilities, and on nearby public property. Under the Clery Act, college campuses are required to issue crime statistics every October 1st. The UNM data can be found on the UNM Police Department website.

In 2019, there were a total of 588 crimes reported to UNM police. In 2020, during the pandemic, crime totals were down by half. As the campus reopened in 2021, crime totals went up again. The most recent data from 2022 show the highest number of total crimes — 609 reported incidents — of the past four calendar years.
(Source: UNMPD. Chart by Alex Villalongja / NM News Port)

The pandemic-related closures led to a big drop in crime reports in 2020. The latest data show crime reports exceeding the pre-pandemic numbers.

“Overall, the crime trend for 2022 is higher than the previous two years,” Silva said, “but this is primarily due to the campus not being fully populated due to COVID-19 restrictions.” 

New data show the highest number of crime reports continues to be vehicle thefts. There were also increases in the number of reported stalkings, assaults and rapes. On the upside, the incidence of burglaries and dating violence in 2022 was down from pre-pandemic totals.
(Source: UNMPD. Chart by Alex Villalongja / NM News Port)

Nationally, UNM is ranked quite high among campuses with crime problems.

According to Degree Choices — a website that compares college options for parents and students — the University of New Mexico ranked 10th on the list of most dangerous college campuses.

The comparison is based on the number of violent crimes per 100,000 students, with the number at 164. The FBI defines violent crimes as rape, murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, and robbery.

“We will continue to keep our eye on any information and crime data as we assess strategies to address certain crime trends,” Silva said.

UNM has been active in promoting crime prevention strategies.

Every fall features a back-to-school “Campus Safety Week.”

This past year, the Albuquerque Police Department opened a sub-station on the south campus.

And, last week, UNM launched a Campus Crime Watch program.

Meanwhile, UNM Police offer various resources including nighttime escorts, response lines, and blue poles with big red call buttons to reach a dispatcher.

UNM’s Duck Pond has multiple Code Blue phone poles for students to report crime. UNM ranked 10th nationally in the number of violent crimes per 100,000 students. (Photo by Alex Villalongja / NM News Port)

UNM will also send out LoboAlerts for locations to avoid due to police activity or an incident occurring on campus.

Students like Liam Hatter say they get rather used to frequent LoboAlerts.

“I’d say it’s pretty average. I feel like we get an email or a text like once a day,” said Hatter. “I feel like the UNM PD is very good at what they do.”

“Campus isn’t in the best part of town,” Hatter said, “and they are asked to do a lot these days. They do everything they physically can, in my eyes.”

UNM President Garnett S. Stokes has declared campus safety her top priority, ordering that UNM campuses (Main, Valencia, Gallup) have more security cameras and more aggressive patrols in student parking lots.