Auto Theft and Burglary Numbers High at SF State
March 2, 2005 12:45 PM
SF State leads other Bay Area colleges in vehicular theft rates over a three-year period, according to statistics compiled by university police departments.
The Department of Public Safety at SF State reported more vehicles stolen from 2001-2003 than Cal State Hayward, Sonoma State University, San Jose State University, UC San Francisco, University of San Francisco or City College of San Francisco.
SF State Department of Public Safety media spokesperson Capt. Amalia Borja attributes SF State’s vehicular theft and burglary rates to the university’s proximity to major city roadways and freeways, which allow thieves a quick getaway. SF State’s reputation as a commuter campus also makes it desirable for automobile thieves, Borja said.
SF State interior design major Jackie Vojvoda, 20, had her silver 2001 Honda Civic stolen from a parking garage in Park Merced. Initially Vojvoda thought her car had been towed and she immediately called university police.
“When I called the (university police) and told them my car was gone, they said it was probably stolen and didn’t even sound surprised because it happens so much,” Vojvoda said.
Music major Eric Montgomery, 19, had his car burglarized overnight on Lake Merced Boulevard while he was living in the dorms last year. The burglars cut a hole in the door of his ’96 Chevy Blazer and made off with his in-dash CD player.
“I was kinda pissed off,” said Montgomery. “I figured my car wouldn’t get messed with right in front of the dorms.”
Montgomery said that there are not enough options for secure parking on campus, so students are forced to park in unsafe areas.
“Not everyone wants to park in the garage on campus because you have to pay and it’s a long walk,” Montgomery said, “So we have to park elsewhere and there isn’t any security.”
Since January of this year, 16 cars have been reported burglarized and five have been stolen on campus or within the immediate area, according to crime logs. In the first three months of 2005, five more cars have been burglarized and two more have been stolen than during the last three months of 2004.
Of the 16 burglaries that have occurred so far this year, 10 occurred on Font Boulevard, three on Lake Merced Boulevard, and three on 19th Avenue. Borja said the highest risk areas are Lake Merced and Junipero Serra Boulevards, and students should avoid leaving cars parked and unattended for long periods.
Borja said university police conduct regular patrols of these problem areas and work together with the San Francisco Police Department to find trends in auto theft and burglary. University police also rely heavily on the campus community to report crimes and suspicious behavior, Borja said.
Borja recommends that students should park in well lit areas, use additional security such as extra locks, car alarms and devices such as “The Club.” She also stresses that valuables should never be left in an unattended vehicle, even in the trunk.
“We will continue to increase patrols and work with the campus community to decrease the number of vehicle thefts and burglaries,” said Borja.
When a car is reported stolen to university police, officers confirm the last seen location of the vehicle, take a report and enter the information into the Stolen Vehicle System, a nationwide computerized system for finding stolen cars.
The Insurance Information Institute reports that a motor vehicle is stolen every 25 seconds in the United States. The odds that a vehicle will be stolen were 1 in 186 in 2002, with higher odds in urban areas. The top three most frequently stolen cars are the Toyota Camry, the Honda Accord and the Honda Civic, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Students like Vojvoda and Montgomery said they have learned valuable lessons about parking around SF State.
“You have to really be careful where you park around here, especially in the garages,” Vojvoda said. “You’d think the garages were safe, but really the streets are a better place because there are more people watching.”
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