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Thefts surge across campus

November 28, 2018

Thefts surge across campus

Hold on to your belongings, SF State is experiencing a rash of thefts across campus.

Since the beginning of October, victims have reported 51 incidents of petty theft, grand theft, burglary and vehicle theft across campus, according to the daily crime log on the University Police Department’s website.

That’s a 57 percent increase from the previous two months.

“The crimes committed are currently under investigation,” said Deputy Chief Reginald Parson. “These theft cases are not solved so they are suspended until further investigation is developed.”

Crimes such as petty theft and property crimes have seen a sharp increase on a weekly basis, according to the crime log, with the majority of crimes occurring in the J. Paul Leonard Library and the Mashouf Wellness Center.

At least one theft has been reported every week in both locations from Sept. 29 to Nov. 25 as reported in the log. The crimes were mainly deemed petty thefts of items under $950.

Parson said lack of awareness among victims plays a big role in many of the thefts.

Students often leave their valuables unattended in public spaces only to find that their property has been stolen when they come back.

According to Parson, the majority of incidents are crimes of opportunity involving the theft of items such as bicycles, laptops, cell phones and backpacks.

UPD advised students to never leave their property unattended while on campus.

The Mashouf Wellness Center saw the highest amount of criminal activity, with more than 45 thefts reported to UPD in 2018.

As reported in a previous Xpress story, most thefts occur when students fail to lock their belongings.

Facilities coordinator Camree May revealed that half of the storage spaces in the Mashouf Wellness Center didn’t have locks or proper surveillance cameras for collecting evidence.

SF State junior Jordan Mata said he feels an ever-increasing need to be aware of his items.

“You always have to be very careful with your belongings when it comes to the lockers,” Mata said. “Things have a tendency to go missing here. It happens in the blink of an eye when you’re working out, you come back and your bag is gone from your locker.”

The library is another hotspot when it comes to theft.

According to senior Daniel Lara, students often ask others to look after their belongings when leaving to use the restroom or to grab a snack or coffee. Lara said that while asking others to look after belongings gives students peace of mind, it doesn’t guarantee complete safety.

“With how late we’re getting into the semester, we’re seeing more people in the library,” Lara said. “It’s a lot more packed since everyone’s studying for their midterm or for their upcoming final, so it’s a given things like this will be more likely to happen.”

Parson said it’s “not ideal” to entrust a stranger, but it is a workable solution and a better alternative to leaving belongings alone. SF State librarian Deborah Masters agreed.

“Asking someone to watch over your items is totally better than leaving them unattended,” Masters said. “It’s the student’s own personal responsibility to protect their property by being in possession of it at all times.”  

Masters said faculty personally warn students who are seen leaving belongings unattended. And UPD leaves cards with unattended belongings, advising individuals not to leave property unattended and offering safety tips.

UPD plans to combat theft through educational awareness programs, a campaign designed to address the spike in thefts, and more patrols in high target areas.

“SF State is an open public campus, which provides a lot of opportunity for subjects who specifically come to steal and victimize our community members,” Parson said. “As we’re approaching the busy academic portion of the semester, it’s important for us to help keep the community informed and increase awareness of the challenges they face.”

Sylvester is a student currently enrolled at San Francisco State University. An east bay native from the suburbs of Hayward, he is fascinated by both the media landscape that shapes the world around us, as well as the history of human conflict through the ages. He is currently a staff writer at the Golden Gate Xpress and has written for the Chabot Spectator. He is interested in pursuing a career in the public relations sphere with an emphasis on tech or government security. You'll most likely find him either on his 3rd iced vanilla latte typing the night away on a story, reading a book on British military doctrine in the 1800s, or listening to the new Travis Scott album at the loudest volume possible.
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