Trends of attempted car thefts on UIndy’s campus

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Since the beginning of the 2021-22 fall semester, there have been a total of four attempted motor vehicle thefts on the University of Indianapolis campus, according to UIndy Police Chief David Selby. There was a report of one car theft on Oct. 1, according to a Watchdog Alert. The attempted thefts have occurred on the north side of campus, Selby said, and most of the vehicles have been older model pick-up trucks. Older vehicle models are easier to get into, according to Selby, and the perpetrators have attempted to access the vehicles primarily through their steering columns. Selby declined to comment on the most recent theft.

While there has been one theft this semester, the majority have only been attempted. Selby said this is a
difference from the thefts of the previous academic year. A major reason for this change, according to Selby, is because students are more conscious of suspicious activity and are not leaving vehicles unlocked.

“Locking the car, that gives us time to get involved, to get there, because . . . it’s a lot different when you see a car and you want to steal it, if you just go out and the door opens and you sit down in it—that’s not very suspicious to anyone, right?” Selby said. “But if you’re jacking around with the handle, or you’re trying to break [the] handle off, . . . then we kind of know something’s up, and other people around campus do.”

Vice President of Student and Campus Affairs and Dean of Students Kory Vitangeli said the university has been working to combat vehicle thefts on campus by increasing police presence and adding cameras to the parking lots on the periphery of campus.

“The police have stepped up patrols and they’re adding officers to the night shift to patrol the parking lots,” Vitangeli said. “. . . We are taking these things extremely seriously. And looking at how we can make sure that we are
monitoring them in new and different ways, including looking at cameras.”

The primary goal is to make sure students feel safe on campus, Vitangeli said, and the best way students can ensure the safety of their vehicles is to be aware of what could make them a target for theft.

“Too many times, what we’ve found when something has happened to someone’s car is that the car was left unlocked, or they’ve left their phone, their purse, their keys, whatever, laying in plain sight,” Vitangeli said. “I think it’s important for people to remember we do live in the 13th largest city in the United States, we are in a suburb of an urban area of downtown Indianapolis. And so everybody kind of needs to be aware and making sure they’re locking vehicles.”

Selby said it’s important for students to check on their cars frequently so that they know if something has happened to their vehicle, such as parts potentially being stolen or damaged.

“I’ll have students that haven’t gone out to their car in a month,” Selby said. “So check on your vehicle. They’ll go out there and they’ll say, ‘I started my car and it was really loud.’ Well someone cut their catalytic converter off. Then that leads me to [think], did I have a group of people come on campus and hit three or four cars? And we don’t find out about [it] until a month later.”

According to Selby, students can do their part to create a safe campus by reporting any suspicious activity to campus police. Vitangeli said students should report activity by calling (317) 788-3333 or 911, and both will route back to campus police when students state they are located at UIndy.

“One thing I think that would be great for this campus is that when people see suspicious activity to call us right away,” Selby said. “Because a lot of times what I’ll get is, something will happen, then I hear three days later, ‘Well, you know, I saw somebody over there.’ . . . Our students are great here, but getting that call at the time something’s happening—we’re going to be able to catch that person a lot easier if we do that.”

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