A stolen vehicle, two car break-ins and two suspicious men were reported to the University Police Department last week, making campus parking lots seem like a hot bed of opportunity for thieves.
“Sometimes these auto break-ins occur in a rash, and then we don’t hear about them, not for a while,” UPD Officer Richard Altman said. He was the officer on duty when two of the incidents happened.
“We’re patrolling lots more this year,” Sergeant Anna Endecott said. “[Last year,] for a while, we were getting a call a night.”
Endecott said she remembers last year it seemed like the lots in front of East and West Halls were hit more by thieves. But lately the calls are coming in randomly from parking lots at all ends of the campus.
On Oct. 30, a student called the station around midday reporting an elderly male who appeared to be trying to force entry into several vehicles parked in the North administration lot. By the time Officer Marcia Fischer arrived the man had left.
On Halloween morning another student reported that his Suzuki Sidekick had been broken into while parked in the Cottonwood lot and a Gerber Leatherman tool was taken. The SUV was equipped with a soft top with zip-up windows – a top common on Jeeps and other four-wheeling vehicles. Altman investigated and found no damage to the car. “[Zip-up windows] make it very easy to open a car without damage or tools,” he said. “That lot is pretty isolated.”
The car was full of tools and other items, but only the Leatherman was reported stolen.
On Nov. 4, a 1984 Chevy S-10 pickup was stolen in the morning while parked in front of East Hall. The Anchorage Police Department broadcast a city wide locate call for the vehicle, which is valued at $1,900. Endecott is handling the investigation.
The student had forgotten something inside and left the truck running with the doors unlocked. When the student came back a few minutes later, the truck was out of sight.
Later that evening a university staff member reported that a man was looking into different cars in the West lot. Officers Calton Roberts and Scott Chafin responded, but found no one remaining in the parking lot.
Altman is also investigating a Nov. 5 report of a stolen parking permit from a student’s vehicle that was parked in the North lot. Altman said the permit was either stolen or lost, as the student noticed it was missing after leaving from home the next day. UPD will not close the case until it is either found or pronounced misplaced.
“We have to write a report if they think it’s stolen,” Altman said.
UPD has some advice for students, faculty and staff to help make both cars and the campus parking lots less appealing to the sticky-fingered.
“Don’t be a tempting target,” Altman said. Remove or secure all valuables from your vehicle and of course, lock your doors before leaving your car in the parking lot. “If you see suspicious activity that makes you wonder, go ahead and call.”
Nothing’s too small to call in. Altman said UPD officers would rather check out a false alarm than have to work an actual crime.
“Being smaller we can do a lot more than a large department that has 10 to 15 calls stacked up on them,” Altman said.
Some vehicles are easier targets, such as those with soft or canopy tops and zip-up windows. Endecott advices that people with car CD stereos choose to get ones with removable faces.
If you have any information about any of the stolen items or the 1984 Chevy, Alaska license plate “DTH 714,” call UPD at 786-1120. The truck is yellow with black trim and has a camper shell on it. If you’re concerned about activity in the parking lots that seems suspicious, call UPD.