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UA News

Auto-related theft highest at beginning of year

By James Maxwell

Thursday August 23, 2001 |

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Students say UAPD should increase patrolling, erect more lights

Vehicle-related thefts, especially those occurring in parking garages, are especially high at the beginning of the school year, UAPD officials said.

"We get a little bit higher (theft) rate in the beginning of the year compared to summer," said Sgt. Mike Smith of the University of Arizona Police Department.

Smith said theft is the No. 1 crime on campus, the most common form usually involving the removal of personal belongings from vehicles.

According to the UAPD's 2000 Annual Campus Safety and Security Report, theft has increased since 1996, though auto theft has actually declined since that year. However, in 1998, auto theft was significantly higher across a four-year comparison.

Smith said theft occurs throughout the entire university and no particular parking lot or garage on campus is more or less safe than the other.

Though, he said when UAPD notices a trend in the occurrences of theft, they have staff concentrate on that particular area.

"I can assure you when problems (with theft) arise, we (UAPD) don't turn our back to it," Smith said.

Kevin Gin, a mechanical engineering senior, said that while he was attending summer session last year, he parked his 1997 Honda Civic in the Cherry Street garage. Following class, he said, he returned to his car to find his car's fog lights missing.

He estimated the cost of the damaged to be between $250 and $300.

Gin said it is difficult for authorities to catch a thief in the act and feels there should be more security patrolling the campus.

He said the university's parking garages provide convenient settings for thieves because they are not in an open lot where they can be easily seen.

"There's not enough security - in any of the garages it's a lot easier to have something taken," Gin said.

Sunny Yoshitomi, a civil engineering junior, said that during winter break in 1999, she left her BMW in the Cherry Street garage while she went back to California.

She said that when she returned from the break, the passenger-side window of her car was completely gone and the CD player and several blankets stolen. She estimated the worth of the stolen items to be $500.

Yoshitomi said she now uses The Club, a protective car device, and no longer leaves any valuables in her car.

She said she feels the parking garages on campus are not very safe and minor improvements could be made to improve the security of vehicles parked in garages.

"I know UAPD makes rounds but maybe they could do their rounds more often and have more lighting in garages," Yoshitomi said.

Smith said the UAPD attempts to educate the student population on safety issues. He said the UAPD's Crime Prevention department provides safety awareness presentations at all new student orientations.

Smith said car owners should make simple, common-sense decisions to protect them from automobile related theft.

He added that all valuables should be stored in the vehicle's trunk, where they are out of view, or left at home.

"If people leave CDs in between the seats, it brings attention to the vehicle," Smith said.

He said if preventive devices such as car alarms can be afforded, they should be installed.

He added that parking on campus is limited but, when possible, car owners should park in a lit area.


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