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Breaking down Princeton’s 2023 daily crime logs

Two Public Safety cars parked on a street curb with their overhead lights flashing blue and red.
Calvin Grover / The Daily Princetonian

In 2023, criminal activity on campus was at its highest during midterms in both semesters, and peaked around 3 p.m. The highest number of on-campus crimes occurred in Frist Campus Center. The Daily Princetonian analyzed 365 days of Public Safety (PSAFE) daily crime records from 2023.

2023 crimes reported to PSAFE follow trends consistent with the crime patterns analyzed in 2022. Significant changes from the 2022 report include the time of day with the most frequently reported crimes: over the past seven years, 12 a.m. had the most reported criminal activity, compared to 3 p.m. in 2023. Additionally, 2023 crime reports peaked in March and October, whereas the reports peaked in May from 2016–2022 on average.


Compared to the 2023 Annual Security and Fire Safety report, the PSAFE daily crime logs — published in accordance with the Clery Act — include a wider range of offenses. The daily crime logs provide a more specific view of criminal incidents, including information about whether an incident ended with an arrest or left open. Additionally, PSAFE daily crime logs focus on crime that occurs on campus, while the Annual Security and Fire Safety report includes crime that occurs off campus, including at the eating clubs.

For nine out of the 12 months in 2023, theft was the largest crime classification reported in the month. Criminal activity tended to peak in March and October around midterms season. In 2023, criminal mischief peaked in May.

“Every offense reported to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) undergoes an individual assessment, considering its unique circumstances to determine the correct classification across these reporting frameworks,” University Spokesperson Jennifer Morrill wrote in a statement to the ‘Prince.’ “It’s not uncommon for an incident to be initially categorized as one type of offense or event, only to be reclassified after further investigation.”

Under the disposition category in the daily log, arrests and closed cases are denoted as different categories.


“On the daily log, ‘open investigation’ refers to offenses currently under investigation,” Morrill explained. “An offense is marked as ‘closed’ when it leads to an arrest or is cleared by exceptional means, as defined in the UCR [(Uniform Crime Reporting)] program. ‘Unfounded’ indicates that the complaint was found to be false or baseless upon investigation, meaning no evidence supported the initial allegation.”

The highest number of crimes were reported around 3 p.m. and most were reported in the afternoon. Each hour between 12 a.m. to 8 a.m. in the morning, there were consistently 20 or fewer reported crimes.

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In the locations with the highest number of reported crimes, the most reported crime in Frist Campus Center, Lawrence Apartments, Dillon Gym, Lewis Library, Firestone Library, and Holder Hall was theft. The largest category of crime at Princeton Stadium was criminal mischief, and the most prominent category at Lakeside Apartments and Nassau Hall was harassment.

Tied with Frist Campus Center, “Main Campus” was the location with the most crimes reported.

“‘Main Campus’ is used when the complainant does not provide sufficient geographical information to accurately identify a specific location, yet the incident is reasonably believed to have occurred on the university campus,” University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss wrote in a statement to the ‘Prince.’

The most reported crime at Frist Campus Center was theft and harassment, including bias-related harassment. The most frequently reported crime at Dillon Gym was theft, and the same was true for Firestone Library along with criminal mischief.

Of the residential colleges, Mathey had the most crimes in 2023. At the U-Store, there were 15 crimes reported, all of which were shoplifting or theft. In March 2023, the U-Store installed security cameras at the University Place location by the self-checkout machines to discourage shoplifting. An additional theft was reported at 36 University Place, the address of the U-Store. 

“DPS has jurisdiction in the town of Princeton as well as in the surrounding municipalities and does respond to incidents on Nassau Street,” Hotchkiss wrote. “However, in most off-campus cases, these locations are not our primary jurisdiction. On the daily crime log, ‘University Store’ generally refers to the campus location at 36 University Place.”

With 191 cases, theft is the leading type of crime reported in 2023, with criminal mischief next with 87 cases recorded. Over the previous seven years, theft was also the most reported crime, but harassment was second most, with criminal mischief behind.

There were 32 cases of fraud in 2023. According to Morrill, fraud encompasses various methods of theft achieved through deceit.

In 2023, harassment was the third most common type of crime reported in 2023. This category includes offenses listed as “harassment” and “harassment (bias).”

“An offense listed as ‘harassment’ becomes ‘harassment (bias)’ when the investigation reveals sufficient objective facts indicating that the offense was motivated, entirely or partly, by the offender’s bias,” Morrill wrote. “This bias can be against the victim’s race/ethnicity/ancestry, religion, disability, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. It requires a reasonable and prudent person to conclude that the offender’s actions were influenced by such biases.”

Mary Ma is the Creative director and a staff data reporter for the ‘Prince.’

Erin Yoo is a staff data reporter for the ‘Prince.’

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