Unattended belongings make easy theft targets

City College police Chief Andre L. Barnes

By Matthew Gomez
The Guardsman

At City College unattended valuables like laptops and cameras are a favorite for thieves looking for a quick score.

So far this semester, 31 of the 59 crimes reported on City College campuses were thefts, and the majority of those occurred in the Wellness Center and Rosenberg Library.

“Theft is the number one issue that we deal with,” City College Police Chief Andre Barnes said.

Last summer City College and the Ingleside police department teamed up to conduct an investigation into the thefts on campus. The Ocean campus resides within the Ingleside district, and often Ingleside’s officers work together with officers from City College (TheGuardsman.com/stings).

Sergeant Jim Miller, from Ingleside, compared data and statistics that City College had compiled and used it to determine the best form of theft prevention.

“We kind of had an idea already of what the problem was,” Miller said.

They found that the majority of thefts involved unattended items. Their main plan of action was to spread the message to students that they need to prevent theft by being more aware of their surroundings.

“Public safety is a shared responsibility,” Barnes said. “It’s up to students to be the first protectors of their property and themselves.”

Erik Krouse, who uses the locker room in the Wellness Center before and after his P.E. classes, said he keeps his valuables either with him or in his car. He only keeps clothes in his locker, because he said the area can get “sketchy.”

There are only 33 police officers divided between City College’s 11 campuses. Three to six officers are usually stationed at the Ocean campus, Barnes said.

At a school with more than 100,000 students, Barnes said it is impossible for the police to monitor every situation.

The staff and librarians at Rosenberg have tried to take that responsibility upon themselves. They do patrols throughout the day and leave tags on unattended items that say “If we were thieves, your things would be gone.”

Charles Fracchia, department chair of the library learning resource center, said the message is still lost on many students, who think leaving items unattended for a few minutes isn’t an issue.

“They don’t take it seriously,” Fracchia said. “We have bent over backwards to try to educate students not to leave their belongings.”