UNA police say arrest, heightened patrol end crime spree

Students Zach and Abigail Ferris grab their books and bags from their vehicle as they prepare to go to their afternoon classes April 3. Crimes involving vehicles spiked at the beginning of 2015 but recently stopped, authorities said.

A recent string of vehicle-related crimes seems to have come to an end, officials said.

Nine vehicle crimes, including motor vehicle theft, vehicle burglary, a hit-and-run and criminal mischief occurred on campus in the first three months of this year, according to the police department crime logs.

“We have made an arrest for possession of stolen property from a recent case,” said Interim UNA Police Chief Mark Parker. “After the arrest, it seems they’ve quit.”

Police arrested a former student for receiving stolen property after a vehicle burglary was reported to campus police March 3, Parker said.

Parker said he thinks increased patrol on campus and students being diligent about securing their property also caused the crime trend to cease.

Police recently recovered a truck that was stolen from the Facilities Administration and Planning building on Waterloo Road last December, authorities said.

Police found the truck in Hernando, Mississippi, according to reports, and returned it to facilities personnel so it can be returned to working condition.

Police identified two suspects, but names are not available for release. The suspects are not students.

Authorities received a report of a hit-and-run in the parking deck March 16, Parker said, but there were no witnesses and currently no suspect has been identified.

He said the victim reported the incident several days after the crash occurred, making a follow-up and investigation of this incident difficult.

“We are still going to diligently follow up on this case,” Parker said.

He said he thinks the student did not intend to report the case until parents suggested it.

Some students said they think car crime rates will fall further when cameras are added to the on-campus parking deck.

“I feel like the surveillance cameras would help because people would be more afraid to commit a crime because eyes are watching them,” said junior Noel Geiger.

Vice President for Student Affairs David Shields announced in March the university will spend about $225,000 on new surveillance equipment for the parking deck and other campus facilities.“Perpetrators will be will less likely to commit crime,” said senior Arielle Jones. “When I lived on campus, I never felt safe in the parking deck. I was always afraid someone was going to be attacked.”

Parker said he is optimistic about the effect security cameras will have on campus crime.

“We’re hoping they’ll cover as much as possible,” he said. “We know there will be some areas that will not be covered.”

Senior Tyler Long said the cameras should be installed all across campus—not just in the parking deck, adding that they are not fool proof.

“You’re never going to stop criminals,” Long said. “They’re still going to commit crimes. They might even wear masks or disguises to get it done.”

Parker said he hopes the cameras will help prevent these violations.

“Each stone adds up to make a bigger structure that will help make things safe,” he said.

Parker said the police are continuing to encourage students to be diligent in protecting themselves and their property to prevent car crimes.

He said the police department is encouraging the university to continue implementing these camera programs on campus.