Every two weeks, on average, a car is broken into on campus.
When facing difficult economic times, students don’t need to add broken windows and stolen property to their cost of attending school. A few simple safety precautions can help students avoid becoming victims.
“This time of year, right now, is typically your high theft time,” said Sgt. Waters, a highway patrol officer of 20 years. Waters oversees the South City, Taylorsville Redwood and Meadowbrook campuses and has been with SLCC for five years.
He and Shane Crabtree, the Director of Public Safety at SLCC for the past 18 years, offer students some basic tips on how to avoid getting their cars broken into.
“Don’t display your stuff,” said Crabtree. “Put it in your trunk so it’s not seen. If it’s not seen, you’re probably not going to get broken into.”
Crabtree warns that purses, backpacks, and iPods should never be left in plain view.
He also cautions specifically about textbooks.
“[Thieves] know how valuable books are. You know how much you pay for your books,” said Crabtree. “Easy thing to steal, easy thing to sell.”
Waters adds that not even the trunk is entirely safe.
“If you’re locking your purse in your car, it doesn’t help much when you get out, open the trunk, put your purse in. You don’t know who’s watching,” said Waters. “If you know you’re going to want to put your purse in your trunk, put your purse in your trunk before you come to school.”
Waters also advises students to make sure all their doors are locked and all windows are rolled up. “We understand it’s hot and people want to vent their windows when it’s hot but then you’re just giving a thief access to your car,” he said.
Crabtree and Water’s next tip is also a school policy. They advise not to leave cars in the parking lot overnight. Crabtree warns that a lone car at night makes a pretty easy target. If students have to leave their cars overnight, they should let Parking Services know.
“We’re not tow-happy,” said Waters. “We’ll try to get a hold of you first. If you break down or have to leave your car, we understand that but you need to call parking and say your car’s going to be here for a reason.”
If a break-in does occur, the first thing to do is call the Department of Public Safety at 801-957-3800. An officer will be sent to investigate the scene.
“Try not to touch doors and entry points and go in and see what might have got taken. That destroys evidence for me and then I can’t find the bad guy,” said Waters.
Waters says that in his experience people will often go home first and then call in the crime. While he can still take a report, there is little he can do about the incident besides document it. “Sometimes there’s not evidence to collect but don’t take that option away from me,” he said.
While following these tips is important, both Crabtree and Waters emphasize the value of campus community involvement in keeping SLCC safe.
“I can’t be everywhere,” said Waters. “On a normal day, I’m here on Redwood and I have one officer but that’s a big campus for two officers.”
With only a limited number of officers to patrol the various campuses Waters always appreciates when students and staff report suspicious activity.
“We rely on students and staff eyes and ears. If you see someone out there looking in cars, call us. We’ll go talk to them,” Waters said.
Crabtree agrees that what really makes the difference in preventing crime is the involvement of the campus community. He feels that, while the presence of law enforcement officers does help, they can’t be everywhere at once.
“Twenty thousand students is a lot better than five officers,” he said. Crabtree feels that when the members of the community look out for each other, it allows law enforcement officers to do their job more effectively.
“Another thing that a lot of students don’t realize is that we do run a very, very safe campus,” said Crabtree. “You’d think the crime would be much higher for twenty thousand people on campus at all times but it’s relatively low. And we credit the faculty, staff, and students for that.”
• Don’t leave valuables in plain view
• Backpacks, purses, iPods and textbooks are highly targeted items
• Put valuables in trunk before arriving at destination
• Roll up windows and lock doors
• Don’t leave car on campus over night
• If there has been a break-in, don’t touch doors or entry points.
• Call 801-957-3800 to report suspicious activity or a break-in.