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Public Safety notes sharp rise in thefts on campus

By Joshua Wood

Student vehicles are becoming less safe on campus.

According to statistics from the Public Safety Department, vehicle break-ins at Chemeketa have doubled in the past year.

In Chemeketa’s neighborhood, “there’s an epidemic of drugs,” David Yost, an officer with Chemeketa’s Public Safety Department, said. “People that are drug addicts see [your unlocked cars] as an opportunity.”

Yost said collaboration between students and Public Safety was needed to fight theft.

“It is definitely a deterrent for us to be out here, but it is definitely an education problem, too,” he said.

Visible valuables are a key factor, and part of the responsibility for valuables falls to the students. Yost said that criminals breaking into cars know that Public Safety has patrol routes.

“These people are seeing me or the other officers and … they wait for us to leave. Then they steal what they want,” he said.

Public Safety officers have a variety of duties to perform that may prevent them from being able to patrol constantly.

Among them are unlocking doors, assisting facilities, turning on lights for the baseball field, assisting student workers, and medical calls.

“We would love to catch everybody stealing stuff out of cars,” Yost said.

Public Safety officers ask that students and staff refrain from leaving valuables in vehicles and to lock the doors.

“Last year there were 54 break-ins. Only 18 of them were forced entry, meaning all the rest were unsecured vehicles. All of them but one had items displayed, whether it’s purses, backpacks, or just straight valuables,” he said.

Chemeketa is not alone in this rise in thefts.

In addition to educating students and staff, Public Safety has started a bicycle patrol, which officers hope will be less noticeable to criminals, Yost said.

Students can help protect their property by:

Putting an Owner Applied Number on their property;

Locking their doors; and

Making sure there are no valuables visible in their vehicle.

“For whatever reason, this is a central hub sometimes for attracting bad things. It’s a casual place to hang out. It’s big; it’s spread out. So that’s why it attracts so many negative people,” Yost said.

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