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Campus car theft on rise

By Lauren Lund
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, February 3, 2005
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The University of Arizona Police Department sent out a warning to all students and faculty regarding an increase in criminal activity on university surface parking lots.

There were 17 cars stolen from campus lots in January, said Sgt. Eugene Mejia, UAPD spokesman. There are two to three automobile thefts or attempted automobile thefts reported to UAPD per week.

"We're a shopping mall for auto thieves," Mejia said.

There has been a major increase in auto thefts on campus over the past few years, rising from 48 total automobile thefts in 2003 to a total of 63 in 2004 and 17 already this year, Mejia said.

Automobile thefts occur more frequently in Zone 1 lots compared to parking garages because it is easier for the thief to get away from a surface lot than a garage, Mejia said

In response to the rise of automobile thefts on campus, UAPD, in coordination with Security Hardware and Master Lock, have made the Fortress, which is a four-hook steering wheel lock available for $10 with tax included.

Students and faculty can purchase the Fortress steering wheel lock at UAPD.

Mejia said that if the campus community reports suspicious activities or persons observed in the parking garages, surface lots or anywhere on campus, it could help bring down the number of automobile thefts.

However, the rise in automobile thefts does not scare Katie Miller, a communication and journalism sophomore, who said she would not buy a Fortress lock.

"(Because) I haven't had any problems before," Miller said.

There are currently 230 students on the waiting list for the Fortress lock, Mejia said, but there is a shipment of 100 locks coming in this week.

Rachel Reiss, a communication senior, said her roommate's car was stolen but suggested that the theft might have been prevented if she had a steering wheel lock of some kind.

Reiss does not think, however, that the lock will prevent the car from being stolen, but it would make it more difficult.

"If someone really wanted to take the car, it wouldn't stop them, but it would make it more difficult," Reiss said.

Greg Goldner, a communication senior, has parked in Zone 1 lots since his freshman year and has never had his car broken into, but said he is unhappy with the amount of automobile thefts and break-ins that occur on campus.

"It's amazing UAPD can't do something and step it up," Goldner said.

Dustin Goering, a first-year watershed management graduate student, has never had his car broken into on campus, but he has an alarm system.

As of now, he said he is not thinking about buying a Fortress, but he might if the auto theft trend continues.

UAPD reminds students and faculty to lock the doors of their car, keep valuables out of sight and use a visual protective device, such as a steering wheel lock, to help deter auto thieves.

Mejia encourages students and faculty to have a car alarm on their vehicles because the noise of the car alarm will further dissuade thieves from stealing their car.

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