Campus theft is common, rarely leads to arrest

By Rachel Smith

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With more than 100 thefts reported to the UK Police Department this year, Police Chief Joe Monroe gave recommendations about how students can keep their belongings safe.

Monroe said books, laptops and mopeds are some of the most commonly stolen items. Theft is the most common crime reported to UKPD.

There have been 112 thefts reported from Aug. 18 to Oct. 17 this year, according to the UKPD’s online crime log. Just three of these cases were listed as “cleared by arrest,” meaning UKPD made an arrest in the case. Forty-four of these cases remain open, meaning there is an ongoing investigation, and 52 thefts are listed as closed, meaning the cases have no solvablilty, the case is resolved or “no further investigative action is required.”

“It’s usually because these thefts are crimes of opportunity,” Monroe said.

Many campus thefts happen in residence halls and the W.T. Young Library, especially when students leave their belongings unattended.

Psychology freshman Kylie Russ was surprised to hear the library was a prominent place for people with sticky fingers.

“Now I feel like I have to take my backpack and other possessions with me everywhere when I’m at (the library),” Russ said.  “That seems ridiculous.”

Moped theft has been especially common this year. According to crime bulletins sent by UKPD, about 10 mopeds have been stolen on or near campus since mid-July.

Failure to properly secure mopeds when they are not being used can make them an easy target.

Hayes Hagan, a finance and economics junior, has become more cautious about parking his moped since the reports of recent thefts.

“I actually use my lock a lot more when I’m on campus than when I’m off campus,” Hagan said. “I have less fear of it getting stolen at my house than I do when I go into class and leave it unattended.”

Though locks can help, they do not always prevent mopeds or bicycles from being stolen.

Knowing the serial or vehicle identification numbers on items such as laptops and mopeds can help the police solve thefts. Without knowing the number, it can be difficult to determine who is the true owner of a stolen good.

“The best thing to do is make sure to record the ID number if you get a valuable item,” Monroe said. “Take a picture of it and email to yourself.”

In an attempt to cut down on crime at UK, the police department has implemented a campus security project totaling about $6 million over the past three years.

This security project includes nearly 3,000 cameras hidden on poles and buildings throughout campus, as well as a emergency notification system and new WildCard IDs. Monroe said there has been a noticeable and positive change in crime around UK’s campus since the project began.

“We’ve seen an increase in the usage of the cameras, which correlates with the decrease in the amount of violent crime this campus has seen,” Monroe said.

There has been an increased use of emergency notifications when students could be in danger. Students receive phone calls, text messages and emails during emergencies.

Although theft is the most commonly reported crime on campus, Monroe said UKPD is doing everything it can help students keep their goods safe.

“I appreciate the vigilance of the campus police and like being notified with such a timely notice,” Hagan said. “It’s a very hard thing to prevent but the awareness helps.”