By Gelsey Plaza
Throughout the month of March, there were six reported cases of vehicular crime around the Lewis & Clark campus. There were four vehicle thefts and two car break-ins; the victims’ vehicles were supposedly unlocked.
“In two of, possibly three of the vehicle thefts the keys were also inside of the vehicles,” Campus Safety Lead Dispatcher Carey Gordon said over email. “In all cases, the incidences were reported to the Lewis & Clark College Campus Safety Office by the victims.”
According to Campus Safety crime reports, three of these vehicle incidents were on March 10. The first occurred in the parking lot next to Holmes Residence Hall. Another incident was reported to Campus Safety regarding a stolen vehicle thought to have been taken from near the Platt-Howard Residence Hall parking lot. The third auto theft also occurred in the Platt-Howard Residence Hall lot. The owner filed a report with both Campus Safety and the Portland Police Bureau.
On March 12, another vehicle was stolen from the lot next to the Forest Residence Halls. The vehicle was unlocked with the keys inside. That same day, a vehicle break-in also occurred in the parking area adjacent to Maggie’s Cafe. The owner reported that the inside was left in a disarray and had appeared to be rifled through. On March 29, a supervisor with an on-campus vendor reported a missing work vehicle. The vehicle was left unlocked with the keys inside. A report was filed with the Portland Police Bureau.
Another incident occurred the first week of April in the parking area around Spruce Hall in Forest. According to Gordon, the incident is believed to have happened the night of April 7. This was a traffic crash, which involves damage to a vehicle from another vehicle, regardless of circumstances. The incident was reported by the victim who was not in the vehicle at the time and is thus unharmed. There has been no further updates about the perpetrator or the vehicle they were operating.
The location of the cars are still unknown to Campus Safety, with the exception of the vendor’s work van, which was recovered by local law enforcement and returned to the owner. On March 16, the Provost’s Office issued a statement to the student body from Campus Safety Director Donna Henderson with some tips for maintaining vehicle safety. In the email sent to the student body, Henderson gave suggestions for protecting vehicles.
“Never leave your car running or the keys in the ignition when you’re away from it, even for ‘just a minute,’” Henderson said.
She also suggested always rolling up the windows and locking the car, never leaving valuables in plain view, even if the car is locked, and not leaving personal identification documents, electronics or credit cards in the vehicle.
Caitlin Garcia ’20 has not felt particularly worried about having her car stolen, yet she takes precautionary measures.
“My car is parked right in front of my window, so I have this probably false sense of security that I’d hear it happening or something,” Garcia said. “I do, however, make it a point to lock my car every night and leave the windows closed. I used to leave my keys in my car for convenience but have definitely stopped doing that.”
Another student, who prefers to remain anonymous, was much more concerned about the car thefts taking place.
“I have been checking to make sure my car is still in its parking space daily since the email came out,” they said.
Cosma Davis ’20 was also quite worried when she first read the original email on the car thefts.
“I was also very confused how that could be happening on campus, which is monitored by video cameras and patrolled by campus security,” Davis said. “It seems like a high risk area to steal a car. But I’ve definitely taken precautions. I always lock my car and empty it of all possessions as soon as I park.”
Security cameras are primarily located on the academic side of campus, while the residential side, where the thefts took place, is predominantly monitored by Campus Safety.
As the search for the missing vehicles continues, Campus Safety asks that students take the appropriate precautions in protecting their vehicles from theft.