On the Beat: Theft on campus

I often man tables at information fairs and other campus events, and I often get asked, “So what happens here at Case?”

By that they mean criminal activity, I assume. While I am always tempted to throw a curveball (the rate of human sacrifice is quite high, but we’ve been working on that) I usually just answer truthfully and say that the most serious thing that happens here is robbery, and the most frequent is theft. So let’s talk about the most frequent first.

At this time of year the primary target for theft is bicyclesthe Kelvin Smith Library bike rack and several racks on the engineering quad and medical school have always been prime targets. This year is no exception. Bike thieves we have caught in the past range in age from 15 to 50 so there is no one description, but in general if you observe someone hanging around a rack with no bike or attempting to replace one bike with another, please give Case Western Reserve University Police Department a call. Many bike thieves use bolt cutters or shears to cut cable or wire locks, so definitely call if you see this type of activity taking place. Also use U-Locks instead of cable locks when securing your bike to make it tougher for thieves.

The next most frequent targets are cell phones, laptops, tablets or backpacks that look like they might contain laptops or tablets. Usually items left unattended, even for a short period of time, are prime targets. This is especially true in high traffic areas like eating areas, lounges/lobbies, restrooms or even unlocked offices. Also if you are going for a run or a game of hoops, leave your valuables at home rather than leaving them courtside as they can vanish quickly. Locking your suite or office if you are going to be gone for an extended period is always wise as well.

All of this is not to say that the campus is swarming with potential thieves (and bike thefts go down in winter for some reason) but theft does occur here. So let’s keep an eye on our stuff, and let’s look out for each other.