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COVID-19 highs and trespassing an empty campus: Campus Crime Beat — May 2020

From break-ins, to trespassing, to not socially distancing while smoking, this Campus Crime Beat covers the most noteworthy crimes of May

Trespassing? During COVID-19? More likely than you think

Even a global pandemic can’t stop non-affiliates from trespassing on the University of Alberta campus.

Despite students conducting classes online for the Spring semester, incidents of trespassing have actually increased. UAPS has reported 52 incidents of trespassing over the month of May while only 39 incidents were reported in April.

James Elkow, an inspector with University of Alberta Protective Services (UAPS), asserted that trespassing has remained “static” on campus, with certain non-affiliates (individuals unaffiliated with the university) even becoming well-known to UAPS.

With fewer people around campus, Elkow said these trespassers may feel it’s a good time to commit thefts, as there are fewer people to witness their crimes. 

While COVID-19 may not deter non-affiliates from wandering campus, pandemic restrictions have made it easier for officers to identify trespassers. 

“They’re easier to come across now because there’s less traffic on campus, so they stand out a little bit more,” Elkow said. 

The High of Social Distancing

If you plan to get high on campus with friends, ensure you stay at least five metres away from a doorway and two metres away from your toking buddies or you’ll risk a potential visit from UAPS.

In May, UAPS reported seven violations of the Gaming Liquor and Cannabis Act. Typically, these are incidents where someone smokes weed or cigarettes within five metres of a doorway or air intake, such as a window.

However, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, UAPS has been receiving occasional calls from concerned individuals who witness groups smoking joints or cigarettes without proper social distancing. 

According to Elkow these calls have gone down as societal concern over COVID-19 has increased. But, if you’re going to smoke with your friends, remember to follow social distancing guidelines — it’ll make for good health and a good high!

Michener Park: Move outs and Break-Ins 

As Michener Park continues to shut down their facilities, the area has become a more frequent spot for break-ins.

The residence, which the university plans to fully shut down by July 31, is currently in the process of moving current residents out. Because of this, Elkow said individuals have been breaking into vacant suites and “hanging out,” often residing or sleeping in them.

 In response, both UAPS and the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) southwest division have been increasing their patrols in the area.

Breaking in through an unlocked door? Still a crime

On May 19, cleaning staff reported seeing a man inside the North Power Plant building, home of Dewey’s, the beloved campus bar. 

The man, whose reasons for being in the building are unknown, entered through an unlocked door. When cleaning staff reported the incident, both UAPS and EPS responded to the incident. 

While awaiting the response of EPS, the man walked out and turned himself over to UAPS officers, who then arrested and charged him with breaking and entering. 

“The term break-in is sometimes confused with actually kicking a door, breaking a door, or breaking a window,” Elkow said. “But, at the end of the day, if you enter through an unlocked door, break the plane of that door, and go into an unauthorized area, that’s technically a break-in.”


If you notice any suspicious activity on campus, call University of Alberta Protective Services at (780) 492-5050, or Edmonton Police Services at (780) 423-4567. In an emergency, call 911.

Mitchell Pawluk

Mitchell Pawluk is the 2020-21 Opinion Editor at The Gateway. He's a fourth-year student majoring in political science and minoring in philosophy. When not writing, he enjoys reading political theory, obsessing over pop culture, and trying something new!

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