JORDAN GERSHMAN ’19
After returning to campus, and preparing for their first week of classes with excitement and enthusiasm, many students were alarmed when informed that several vehicles on campus had been broken into on the evening of Sept. 8. Following a series of vehicle break-ins that occurred during the first week of classes, Campus Safety continues to investigate the incidents in conjunction with the Hartford Police Department. The following afternoon, an email from Campus Safety Office Assistant Jorge Lugo to students, staff, and faculty of the college detailed four incidents of theft reported in several parking lots across campus.
The first incident, reported to Campus Safety at 2:00 am on Sept. 8, occurred in the Crescent Street parking lot, where an owner’s manual was stolen from a vehicle and later “discarded nearby.” Lugo’s email reported that, “several juvenile suspects” were located in connection to this incident. Though no other information was provided, Campus Safety believes the suspects were between the ages of sixteen and twenty years old.
The following morning, another ransacked vehicle was reported to Campus Safety at 6:15 a.m. The trunk and one of the doors were left open by the perpetrators but no items had been stolen. The vehicle had been parked in the lot located at 76 Vernon Street. Shortly after this incident was reported, another student notified Campus Safety that the rear passenger window of his vehicle parked in the lot on Summit Street and Allen Place had been smashed and the perpetrators had stolen money stored inside the vehicle.
The last reported incident, which occurred in the Alpha Delta Phi parking lot on Vernon Street, resulted in a student’s vehicle being stolen from the premises. The vehicle was reported as stolen to the Hartford Police Department and entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), a national repository of law enforcement information and ongoing investigations, including records of vehicles reported as stolen. Overall, six vehicles were broken into between Thursday and Friday.
Director of Campus Safety Brian J. Heavren explained that the opportunistic perpetrators were in search of vehicles they could conveniently access. “We believe that this group worked as one unit and travelled across the different parking lots on campus, over the period of an hour or two. No specific type of vehicle was targeted, but the perpetrators worked together in search of cars that were unlocked or those they knew held valuable items,” Heavren explained. Although the affected parking lots are consistently monitored with surveillance cameras, the identities of the perpetrators were generally indistinguishable from the footage collected, which was submitted to the Hartford Police Department for further examination.
These incidents are being investigated in connection to the rising incidents of car theft in recent months that have been occurring throughout the city of Hartford and nearby suburban towns. Lugo’s email reported that, “In recent weeks the city and surrounding towns have seen an increase in theft of personal property from motor vehicles and motor vehicle thefts.”
In August, Deputy Hartford Police Chief Brian Foley responded to the statewide surge of car thefts by issuing a warning to car owners of newer model vehicles with key fobs, which were a factor in the recent on campus thefts. Models with key fobs are particularly susceptible to theft due to the ease of access to the vehicle. Heavren explained that the sudden popularity of new key fob technology has led to new security concerns since it can make owners susceptible to theft, especially since many choose to leave their key fobs inside their vehicles out of convenience. Suspects can start the ignition with the press of a button, and steal a car with little effort or force.
When asked how students can protect their vehicles from theft in the future, Heavren responded, “Safety is a joint effort between students, Campus Safety, and the College individually. We ask students to make their cars as sterile as possible by leaving valuables in the trunk, and not storing money or electronics in visible areas that can be observed from the outside.” A list of recommendations for preventing future occurrences of theft was distributed to students, also suggesting that students park in locations that are “busy and well lit,” as well as ensuring that all doors and windows are secured. As these incidents are the first to occur within the fall semester, there is a collective hope to raise awareness and foster a safer, more aware community. Campus Safety is committed to preventing theft in the future and remains in contact with the Hartford Police Department to resolve the most recent incidents as quickly and effectively as possible.
JORDAN GERSHMAN ’19