MSU tops among state campuses for burglaries

Burglary rate is highest at MSU


More burglaries have occurred at Montana State University than at the state’s other two largest campuses.

Out of MSU-Bozeman, MSU-Billings and University of Montana, the Bozeman campus reported the most burglaries between 2010 and 2012 at 45, according to the MSU Police Department website, which defines burglary as the unlawful entry into a building with the intent of committing a crime. The highest number occurred in 2012 when 18 burglaries were reported.

MSU-Billings reports five burglaries and UM reported nine during the same time period, according to each campus’s website.

Asked about MSU-Bozeman dubious distinction, MSU Police Chief Robert Putzke said, “I don’t know because there are so many factors in the equation.”

“Probably the largest factor affecting burglary counts at universities is the number of on-campus residents,” he said.

Enrollment for MSU has been increasing in recent years, setting records each fall semester. From 2010-2012, enrollment increased by 1,101 students, which as Putzke explained, could be the largest factor in explaining the difference in number of reported burglaries.

MSU-Billings shows significantly lower enrollment, almost a third of the enrollment at the Bozeman campus. However, U of M’s enrollment is similar to MSU’s, both around 14,000 total enrollmentsfor 2012.

“I also don’t know how other universities report their statistics,” Putzke said. “I know that some schools encourage reporting such crimes only to campus housing authorities and not campus law enforcement authorities.”

UM’s security policy says any criminal activity on campus will be investigated by campus police, and if it violates state criminal code, the matter will be referred to Missoula County or city attorney for prosecution.  MSU-Billings also reports that university police will first investigate criminal activity.

To minimize burglaries on campus, the MSU Police suggest taking a “common sense approach to protecting your valuables and either keep them in your locked residence or on your person; record serial numbers of expensive articles,” according to the police department website.

Crime statistics for MSU are available online at

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