Students could be source of high crime in Bulloch

Logo courtesy of: Statesboro Police

Jennifer Curington

Police say a high population of students in Statesboro may be to blame for Bulloch County’s

high robbery rate.

“Any high percentage we have is probably going to be due to the demographics involved in the

college,” Justin Samples, Statesboro Police Department Officer, said. “College students tend to

make better targets for criminals because they’re out on their own for the first time.”

Of the 17 Georgia counties with the most similar population count, Bulloch has the fifth

highest number of robberies from 2010 to 2012. Over that three-year period 188 robberies were

committed in Bulloch County.

Seven of those 17 counties have a university or one very close by.

“A lot of criminals take advantage of the area because of the lower cost of living around the

complexes around the campus,” Samples said. He said that with the affordable housing options

designed for the student population of Bulloch County, it makes it easier for criminals to live in

the area and commit crimes.

Jared Akins, Bulloch County Chief Deputy, said that the first two years of college are a learning

experience for new students that may not be aware of the possible dangers that surround them.

“You have a fairly vulnerable population. You have a fairly easy escape route because if I’m on

foot and I’m in an apartment complex, I can get most anywhere before you can even get on the

phone and call 911 after the fact,” Akins said.

For law enforcement, robbery is when a criminal confronts someone to steal from them. The

three categories of robbery are strong arm, armed and sudden snatch, Samples said.

Strong arm robbery is when the perpetrator uses their physical intimidation to subdue the

victim while an armed robbery is when the perpetrator uses a weapon. A sudden snatch is when

someone’s property is quickly yanked from his or her possession.

The most common types of robbery in Bulloch County involve a victim who is robbed on foot by

a perpetrator on foot, delivery drivers who are robbed, or a drug deal gone bad.

Many people may be robbed during drug deals because the perpetrator believes that a victim who

had their illegal drugs taken from them is less likely to call the police, Samples said.

“A lot of robberies that we have are drug related robberies which means that it’s a drug

deal…gone bad and they report it to us as a robbery,” Samples said.”

Even if Bulloch County’s rate of robbery is higher than some similar Georgia counties, it

does no good for the community to be fearful, Barbara King, professor of criminal justice and

criminology, said.

“The actual rate is not as important as the perception. When crime is perceived as being high

or increasing…levels of fear increase. This perception also can exacerbate the problem, if it

depresses community activity and involvement,” King said in an email. “If residents retreat

indoors and community trust and interactions decrease, this could make the community more

vulnerable to criminal influence.”

Seven of the 188 robberies in Bulloch County from 2010 to 2012 happened on Georgia Southern

University’s campus.

Students can carry pepper spray on campus, but no stun guns or Tasers. State law prohibits

firearms from being brought on campus, Michael Russell, Chief of GSU’s Department of Public

Safety, said.

In order to decrease the number of robberies every year, local police increase patrols near student

housing areas over holiday breaks.

“Thanksgiving, Christmas break is always bad for residential burglaries because everyone goes

home and the crooks know that,” Akins said.

“One approach might be to map the incidences of robbery to find out when and where the most

activity is located, then concentrate more resources in those areas,” King said. “Also, increasing

lighting and other changes to the environment to help increase surveillance could prove useful.”