Crimes Clustered Around Square, River, Per Harvard Police Data

A Crimson analysis of data provided by the Harvard University Police Department on 581 reported crimes in 2017 reveals crime on campus generally occurs near the Charles River and Harvard Square.
By Isabel M. Kendall

By Gerardo Parra

Staff data analysts Dianne Lee and Gerardo Parra analyzed and formatted the data for this report. Staff writer Isabel M. Kendall wrote the accompanying article; and staff writer Michael E. Xie contributed to the reporting of the article.

A Crimson analysis of data provided by the Harvard University Police Department on 581 reported crimes in 2017 reveals crime on campus is generally concentrated in areas closer to the Charles River and Harvard Square.

The data provided to The Crimson form a subset of total crimes listed in HUPD police logs in 2017. The department chose not to include certain types of crimes in the data it provided, including crimes it deemed less severe—like trespass warnings—or confidential.

HUPD will release all of its crime data later this year in the department’s annual security report. But for now, the data provided to The Crimson offers insight into broad trends both in the type and location of crime on Harvard’s campus.

The type of crime most commonly occurring in the dataset was theft, with 394 unique incidents in 2017. The second most common type of crime in the dataset was vandalism, with 86 unique incidents.

Threats, harassment, and assaults were all next-most common, with 27, 25, and 23 unique incidents, respectively.

The majority of reported crimes took place on the most densely populated areas of Harvard’s campus: in locales by the river Houses (Eliot, Kirkland, Winthrop, Dunster, Leverett, and Mather), in Harvard Yard, and in areas nearby the Yard. A small percentage of reported incidents occurred in the greater Boston and Cambridge areas. Another small cluster took place on the Longwood Medical campus, which houses Harvard Medical School, Harvard Dental School, and the School of Public Health.

Peabody Terrace—a housing complex owned by the University, which primarily houses graduate students—saw the highest number of reported crimes of any single location on campus, according to The Crimson's analysis. Steven G. Catalano, HUPD’s Public Information Officer, said the high number came from “a spike in thefts at Peabody Terrace related to package thefts.”

The below map—compiled by Crimson data analysts—displays 578 of the reported crimes HUPD provided, categorized by type and located on the map according to where they reportedly took place. Three incidents of rape are not shown, given they were reported as occurring in a “river house.” The specific Houses where these incidents occurred were not named in the report.

*There were actually 6 cases of rape logged in the data provided; 3 locations were confidential and couldn't be mapped.

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