THE INSTALLATION of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras inside the campus may have lessened the number of petty crimes in the University.

In the first semester of the academic year, the security office recorded 22 such cases, compared with 39 and 31 in the first semester of school years 2008 and 2009, respectively.

“Majority of the crime incidents happened outside the campus,” security chief Joseph Badinas said.

Based on security office records, España Boulevard was the haven of pickpockets, who prey on students by joining crowds crossing the street. On Dapitan Street, “snatchers” were usually aboard motorcycles, grabbing mobile phones and other valuable items from people on the sidewalk.

Thomasians must also be cautious in parking outside the UST campus — in the afternoon of October 11, a junior Architecture student parked his car on P. Noval Street and later found the left window of his car broken. A backpack, important papers, and an mp3 player were taken away.

Also at P. Noval at 6 p.m. on the same day, a roving guard caught a 14-year-old boy trying to unscrew a tire from a car owned by a second-year College of Science student.

“Usually, some [people] use minors [for criminal activities] because we cannot file any case against them (minors),” Badinas said.

Second semester crimes

While the campus is already equipped with CCTV cameras, Thomasians should not be complacent because just last November 4, a security guard caught two outsiders who tried to get a wallet and mobile phone from a bag left in a pavilion across the open field by an Art and Letters student, who was practicing football at that time.

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Last November 21, three people who have reportedly been swindling Thomasians since 2009 were finally caught on España Street.

Senior Pharmacy student Brian Martin Guballa was at the corner of España and P. Noval streets when a man suddenly stopped him and asked if he belonged to a fraternity. When another man came followed by still another accomplice, Guballa felt threatened and immediately asked for help.

“Noong nakita ko na may binubunot s’ya, natakot ako, tumakbo ako agad sa crowd ng mga tao na magsisimba, tapos nagsumbong na ko sa guard sa P. Noval,” he said.

Guballa together with UST guards looked for the suspects and found out that the three were with another victim, Ram Lester Mondez, a second-year Nursing student.

“Sinasabi ko nga na gusto ko na umalis pero ayaw pa rin nila kong paalisin,” Mondez said.

The suspects, who all came from Novaliches, Quezon City, were identified as Edwin Dela Rosa, 32; Jayemm Cumigad, 25; and a 16-year-old boy.

“Nagawa ko `yun dahil sa hirap ng buhay. Hindi naman kami nananakit,” De la Rosa said.

Aside from the crime prevention, the CCTV “pan-tilt-zoom” cameras enable the security office to see as far as 420 meters, helping them in monitoring Thomasians exhibiting “public displays of affection.”

“We have the ability to control things because of the CCTV cameras. When we see in our monitor that they (students) are going to do something, we immediately send someone to stop them,” Badinas said.

In ordinary school days, UST, which has a student population of 40,000, has more or less 70 security guards.

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The 70 security guards are divided into a “call force” of security guards assigned to buildings and gates, and a “skeletal force” which includes six civilian and two roving guards for the whole day. Ana May R. Dela Cruz

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