According to an OUPD case summary log, there were eight incidents of break-ins and destruction of property at The Ridges since Sept. 1. Most offenders were OU students, OUPD Chief Ted Jones said.
Citations for trespassing were issued on three incidents. Each of these involved a group of two to four people. Citations for destruction of property were issued on the other five incidents. The total amount of damage reported was $335.
"In the past several weeks we've been experiencing a greater number of people frequenting The Ridges," Jones said. "We've had a substantially higher number of people this year and a greater number of entries."
If offenders are found guilty in court, they could pay a fine and spend time in jail. But Jones said the court usually does not assign jail time to first-time offenders.
Curiosity is a factor in students' fascination of The Ridges, he said. This has increased with recent attention on The Ridges, such as the Haunted Ridges Tour and Fox's "The Scariest Places on Earth" production.
"There has been so much more publicity about The Ridges," Jones said. "As with any emerging problem, we've assigned additional patrol hours to that area."
OU senior Dave Ringler said he does not think students' fascination of The Ridges is disrespectful. Although he has visited the site, he was not among those who tried to break in to The Ridges.
"I think it's part of history," he said. "It's a fun, sober alternative."
Sherwood Wilson, associate vice-president for administration for Facilities and Auxiliaries, said the security of The Ridges is a shared responsibility. Facilities Management make sure doors are locked and OUPD monitors activity during patrols.
"We take the same precautions on The Ridges as we do on main campus," Wilson said.
He said visitors should remember the site has historical significance and relevance to this part of Southeast Ohio.
"Curiosity... that's what we want to discourage," Wilson said. "Its disrespectful to the family and patients that were there at one time."
But Ringler said his reason for visiting The Ridges is the same reason people go to scary movies and haunted houses.
"I think everyone wants to get a scary movie," he said. "An insane asylum - an old abandoned one - is the perfect atmosphere."