Police presence linked to auto break-in decline
May 1, 2008 2:04 PM
When an SF State professor stepped out of his University Park North apartment one morning to see the broken window of his car, he had no idea that it would soon become a familiar sight.
“I just didn’t think it would happen again,” said the professor, who wished to remain anonymous. “I had no idea that having my car broken into would be a reoccurring problem.”
The SF State professor has been a resident in the University Park North apartment complex for four years and said his car has been broken into five times.
This past March, University Police distributed a flier notifying residents of an increase in auto thefts around the Buckingham Way area, where University Park North is located.
The flier acknowledged an outbreak of auto thefts, and stated that police have determined the majority of the thefts occurred during late evening hours.
According to the police department, it is common practice to notify residents of recent crime trends via flier postings.
“We believe that the crime reduction is attributed to the education and awareness that the campus community is receiving from our police department,” said Deputy Chief Patrick Wasley.
Incidents involving car thefts and break-ins are not new to SF State. In 2006 there were 50 reported incidents of vehicle thefts, according to the 2007 campus security report.
Last year there were 39 more auto burglary and vehicle theft incidents than in 2006, and at the time police attributed the rise to the acquisition of the University Park North.
“There was a huge increase in auto burglaries in the area (during that time), and University Park North was especially hit hard,” said Wasley.
After the initial spike in break-ins, three suspects were arrested; since then, auto-burglaries in the University Park North and surrounding areas have subsided, Wasley said.
The 697-unit Stonestown apartment complex on Buckingham Way was purchased for $134 million by SF State in 2005 and renamed University Park North. As of the fall 2007 semester, students, faculty and SF State alumni occupied 45 percent of the units at University Park North, according to Jo Volkert, associate vice president of enrollment for the university.
After the acquisition of the property by SF State, residents reported that nighttime security guards were never seen again and replaced with occasional police patrols.
Because of this, said the professor, longtime residents initially perceived the University Park North management as being uncaring and unresponsive to the issue of auto thefts.
Auto break-ins have seemed to subside in recent months, he was quick to add, and the community has noticed a police presence around the area.
“I, along with most residents I have spoken to, appreciate what the university police have [done] to curb these incidents,” he said.
So far this semester there have been 16 reported auto burglaries and 13 reported vehicle thefts, a lower number than this time last year.
The University Police Department does not see SF State students as potential suspects.
“We believe that most of the people that are breaking into vehicles are from off campus and have no affiliation with [the school],” Wasley said.
Residents and visitors who park around the Buckingham Way area are cautioned to not leave anything of value in their parked cars.
“People who find themselves victimized by auto burglars are those who tend to leave high-value items in plain view,” Wasley said.
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