Looting, theft rise on campus in Sept.

Recurrences of looted vehicles and missing bikes have University police paying a little more attention lately. In the past two weeks, campus police have received three reports of stolen bicycles and two reports of theft from vehicles.

“In one week,” Chief of Police Gay Shepherd said, “that’s a little high.”

Last Tuesday, Sgt. Sandy Thompson came upon a Chevy pickup that appeared to have been ransacked.

“I was driving through the open lot north of Jobe [Hall] at approximately 4:25 a.m. when I noticed the lights on,” Thompson said in her report. “I then noticed that the driver’s door lock was punched out, and the front grill was missing.”

The victim, after being notified, reported the theft of stereo equipment, CDs, and the truck’s grill and headlights.

In a less-than-one-week span, University police responded to three reports of stolen bicycles, two outside of residence buildings Murphy Hall and New Hall and one outside of the Jere Whitson building.

“We try to keep an eye on everything, but we’re not a huge police force,” Shepherd said. “If we see a problem, we’ll put an extra watch on that area.”

Shepherd also suggested that students secure their bikes with sturdy locks.

“They’re either not locking them, or they have those little cheap chain locks with the barrel,” Shepherd said. “They’re made of aluminum. A poor lock won’t stop anybody.”

The second instance of theft from a vehicle occurred only a day after the first. A student reported the theft when he returned to his car in the library commuter lot to find his iPod and wallet gone.

“The items were in the center console in plain sight,” Lt. Tony Nelson said in his report. “He had forgotten to lock the doors.”

The wallet contained the student’s driver’s license, social security card, eagle card and debit card.

Shepherd said catching thieves on campus is no easy task.

“It’s not like on TV,” she said. “It’s hard to catch those people. Sometimes it takes weeks or months.”

All bicycles should have a serial number written on the underside of the pedal axle. Law enforcement agencies can use this number to trace stolen bicycles that are later recovered.

“If you’re spending $100 or more on a bike, you should record your serial number,” Shepherd said. “You can bring that to us, and we’ll enter it into the National Crime Information Center.”

Shepherd presented an electronic copy of a possible security camera policy to the Buildings and Grounds Committee last Thursday. The RUC has several surveillance cameras, but the University police department does not have live access to them.

“Live coverage is not real valuable,” Shepherd said. “If something happens, we can go ask for the footage.”

Shepherd said students should park in well-lit areas when at all possible, lock vehicle doors, and never leave valuable items in plain sight.