A public service announcement about car break-ins and car theft on campus was sent out to students recently. Students may think that the beautiful campus is isolated from crime, Security Supervisor Jacquelyn Christensen said; this is not the case. There have been five vehicle-related crimes this September, according to Christensen’s information. In three incidents, windows were smashed. Perpetrators stole clothes from one car and $2,500 worth of items from another, including a stereo. All cars were old models.
On Sept. 18, a Honda was stolen from parking lot G1. While it has not yet been recovered, security has low-quality footage of a white male and a while female around the time the car was stolen. The suspects dumped a stolen Acura for the Honda, Christensen said. This and all other security footage has been turned over to the Spokane County Sheriff detectives, who are investigating the theft.
Car prowling often occurs in teams so one or two people can keep a lookout, Security Officer William Davis said. In addition, the north side of campus is being targeted; four out of the five vehicles robbed were parked in lot G1, which is adjacent to Graves Gym and behind McMillan Hall.
In response, security is concentrating especially on patrolling certain areas, Davis said.
“We’re more aware of people coming on campus and if someone doesn’t look right, especially at late hours,” Davis said.
The worst time for crime on campus is the beginning of the school year, although car prowling can go on all year, Davis said. This year, vehicle crimes have been higher than normal.
According to recent crime data released by the FBI, Spokane has one of the highest crime rates in America, with an average crime rate of 93.75 crimes, per 1,000 people. Twenty-five on-campus crimes have been reported this year, from car theft to backpack theft to students stealing unattended money at the gym.
However, there is no way of counting unreported crimes, and frequently students will not report small thefts, as they do not believe Whitworth security can do anything to help them. Junior Scott Mayfield is one such example. Last week, his backpack was stolen from the dining area. After checking the lost and found on several occasions, he eventually gave up hope, and did not report the theft.
Security can only do so much, but Christensen has several tips for new and returning students:
• Always lock vehicles and never leave valuables in sight; take them out or lock them in your trunk.
• Never leave purses or wallets unattended and never keep social security cards or PIN numbers in your wallet.
• Keep a list of credit cards you have and phone numbers to call in case they are stolen.
• Lock dorm rooms and don’t prop open doors.
• Lock your bike with a thick U-Bolt. Bring a cheap bike to campus.
Students can help security by reporting suspicious people and any other suspected criminal activity on campus to security.
Katie Shaw & Henry Stelter
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