Campus larceny on the rise

Public+Safety+File+Photo%2C+Observer+Staff.

Public Safety File Photo, Observer Staff.

Larceny incidents have been taking place throughout campus recently, from car break-ins to reports of stolen items from Pepsico Recreation Center. Reports have been made to Public Safety and the Rock Island Police Department, with it still being an ongoing investigation.
“The Rock Island Police Department believes that it’s truly people going around just checking to see if cars are unlocked, and then seeing what is a quick take from the vehicles”, said Laura Schneck, Associate Dean of Students.
The latest incident was reported on Mar. 27, in which Public Safety was notified of stolen stereo equipment from an unlocked vehicle in parking lot L, next to Erickson and Naeseth.
“Unfortunately we don’t have any [leads] at this point”, said Schneck.
The incidents have happened in the same location, and tend to be crimes of opportunity, as Schneck puts it, with people leaving their cars unlocked.
Deputy Chief of Police Mark Beckwith said in an email how the Office of Public Safety has handled eight thefts from vehicles in the past three months, not including those thefts that were only reported to the Rock Island Police Department. Beckwith explained that the incidents were crimes of opportunity in which an individual or multiple people were seeking out vehicles that were easily accessible to them.
Beckwith said that, “the Augustana College Police and Office of Public Safety along with the Rock Island Police Department are conducting extra patrols in the parking lots on campus,” as a means to prevent further criminal activity.
Schneck advises students to have their cars locked at all times, and to make sure that all valuables are secured and not openly displayed, which would attract potential perpetrators. She also says it’s important to keep track of serial numbers of items like cellphones, laptops, stereo equipment etc., which can provide law enforcement more information to track the items down through pawn shops and third party vendors.
Other incidents on campus include stolen items from the Pepsico, with one of the first incidents occurring in February. There have been several electronic devices taken from the locker rooms, such as cell phones and tablets.
“There is no connection to the incidents other than them both being crimes of opportunity,” said Schneck.
Since the first thefts in Pepsico, temporary cameras were installed, and self-locking lockers were made available. The Rock Island Police Department was able to get an arrest from these incidents. There is work in progress to turn the cameras into permanent ones in the future, to help catch any other perpetrators.
Beckwith stressed how, “it is imperative for all members of our campus community to make sure that their vehicle is always locked and that items are secured out of plain sight or simply be removed from the vehicle”.