Since Oct. 30, there have been six Watchdog Alerts relating to vehicle theft, according to University of Indianapolis Chief of Police and Director of Campus Safety David Selby. Of those, three were stolen and recovered, one was stolen and not recovered, one was for an attempted theft and one vehicle was not actually stolen, according to Selby. There are a few causes for the misconceptions surrounding how many vehicle thefts or vehicle theft attempts are actually occurring on campus, according to Selby.
One major cause for the perception of car theft on campus is in relation to the criteria in which these vehicle thefts or attempts are being defined, according to Selby. UIndy must report incidents under guidelines that are expressed in the Clery Act. Selby said that there have been instances of irresponsible behavior, such as leaving motorized scooters unattended as well as golf carts with the keys in the ignition, that lead to thefts. He said that these instances have to be reported as vehicle thefts, leading people to think that actual automobiles are being stolen.
Another cause has to do with the number of vehicle thefts across Indianapolis, in comparison to what is actually occurring on UIndy’s campus, according to Selby. There have been eleven vehicle theft incidents on UIndy’s campus from June 18 through Jan. 27, as of The Reflector press time. According to Selby, there have been 3,188 cars stolen in Indianapolis. The number of reported thefts for UIndy is very small in comparison to the number of thefts reported in all of Indianapolis, Selby said.
According to Vice President for Student and Campus Affairs and Dean of Students Kory Vitangeli, UIndy’s campus is very safe and this safety is the result of UIndy and its police officers making safety a high priority. UIndy Police has 14 full-time officers, 11 part-time officers, one student officer and six cadet officers, according to Selby. UIndy Police has also added security cameras behind the University Lofts.
“I think it will be more preventative, because not only did we increase the cameras, but we also lobbied and got better lighting,” Selby said. “We’re working with the city to try to get better lighting on National [Avenue] down by those apartments on State [Avenue].”
He said that they also added two new call boxes, one by the State and National Ave. Intersection, and one on the east lot of College Crossing.
Of the seven incidents since October, Selby said that only one was actually stolen and that theft occurred on Dec. 11.
“That car was actually taken,” Selby said. “There were no keys left in it was locked. So we do have an actual stolen vehicle, but we recovered it.”
The overwhelming cause for almost all of these incidents boils down to a lack of personal responsibility. According to Selby, the vehicle that was stolen on Nov. 23 was the result of a car that was left running and unattended. The owner of that car left it running in an attempt to warm the car while they went back inside to wait. The car theft on Nov. 20 was the result of a backpack with keys inside being left in the front seat. Both of these vehicles were recovered, Selby said.
More recently, there was an attempted theft on Jan. 17, in which a car was broken into and the owner’s keys were discovered in the middle console. On Jan. 21, there was another Watchdog Alert for a stolen vehicle that was parked in front of Cory Bretz, however, the car was not stolen, according to the alert.
Selby said that the thefts that have occurred are not what they appear to be. Vitangeli said that she does not think the university has a major problem with car thefts on campus because each theft has occurred under different circumstances. Though some may find it concerning after hearing the news of a car theft, Vitangeli said that the University always wants to be transparent with students and does not want to hide anything.
“I do think there’s a recognition and acknowledgment that we are trying to keep the campus safe,” Vitangeli said.
Vitangeli said that she is confident that the appreciation from the student body and surrounding community is partly due to the feedback and leads she and the UIndy Police often receive that have lead them to solve many crimes. On top of that, Vitangeli said that she has never received negative feedback from the Watchdog Alerts, or any requests to be taken off of the notification list.
Both Vitangeli and Selby recommended that students take basic steps of responsibility such as not leaving keys in the car, not leaving valuables in plain sight, not leaving doors unlocked, parking on campus instead of side streets, parking in well-lit areas and not inviting strangers into your apartment where your keys may be vulnerable. These steps would lead to far fewer car theft incidents on campus.