Crimes involving vehicles spike at UNA; police say ‘lock doors’

by News Editor Ashley Remkus

Vehicles have become targets for campus crime since the beginning of 2015, and authorities said students are making it easy by leaving their cars unlocked.

UNA police officials said they have received multiple reports of theft, criminal mischief and burglary involving vehicles.

“This has really been a high-priority crime here lately,” said Interim UNA Police Chief Mark Parker. “We’re doing everything we can here. I’ve even called in volunteer reserve officers to help with extra patrol.”

Parker said the most recent incident occurred March 4 when a student’s car was stolen from Willingham Road.

Reports indicate the vehicle was unlocked and the keys were left inside.

“Please lock your doors,” Parker said. “Do not leave valuables in the vehicle. Never leave keys in your vehicle unattended, even for a short time. Open vehicles and visible items only encourage theft. “

Parker said this is the third report of a stolen vehicle in 2015.

An automobile was also stolen at Grandview Apartments March 3 and found by its owner later that day on Nance Street, according to reports.

Parker said another car was reported stolen Jan. 30 from the on-campus parking deck and later recovered in the Rivers Hall parking lot.

He said police have made no arrests, but a suspect has been identified.

Motor vehicle theft is defined as the theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

During 2013, an estimated 699,594 motor vehicles were reported stolen, and 73.9 percent of those were cars, the FBI reported fall during 2014.

The U.S. arrest rate for motor vehicle theft was 21.4 per 100,000 inhabitants during 2013, according to the FBI

At least six vehicle burglaries have occurred on campus this year, and five of those crimes included theft of property, according to UNA police crime logs.

Reports indicate items stolen include textbooks, money and stereo equipment.

Parker said criminal mischief involving vehicles has spiked this year, as well.

Police received six reports of vehicle damage during January and February, including a tire being slashed Feb. 19.

Other reports indicated a hood was damaged Jan. 24, a car window was broken Jan. 25 and a car was egged Jan. 26.

“We’re pretty sure at least some of these crimes are related,” Parker said. “We’re going to continue investigating.”

He said police are conducting extra patrols in the on-campus parking deck and in the areas surrounding campus where students and other residents typically park.