Car thefts up on campus last month

By Nicole Kobie

The freaks came out on Halloween, but the deviants and delinquents ruled October. Traditionally a busy month for the University of Calgary’s Campus Security, October was marked by a high number of car prowlings, totalling over $23,000 in losses.

"Theft is still the number one problem on campus and that’s every month," said Campus Security Manager Lanny Fritz. "This month was particularly bad for car problems. We had 27 vehicles broken into–most of them students’ vehicles while parked in the parking lots."

Fritz advises students to keep valuables such as CDs, laptops and cell phones out of sight in cars, as they entice would-be thieves.

"We have talked to people who break into cars and they tell us that if they see three or four dollars in change in coins sitting there that people would use for parking… that’s enough motivation to break the window and go in there," said Fritz.

Backpacks are easy targets for thieves as well.

"Text books in backpacks could easily be worth several hundred dollars," said Fritz. "That’s pretty enticing considering that some are motivated enough just to steal pocket change."

Fewer incidents are expected to occur in the upcoming months.

"Colder weather actually has a prevention effect on a lot of things," said Fritz. "Bad guys don’t like cold weather either."
The Safewalk program is running in high gear, as more students use the service. Last month, 155 students took advantage of the program; in previous months that number hovered at 100.

"I think a lot of it is… making the service more aware," said Fritz of the increase. "Just advertising and chatting it up is eventually paying off."

The Safe and Sound program (self-defence for women) is not experiencing similar growth; monthly classes usually have room for an extra 10 students.

"I’m not sure exactly why," mused Fritz on the difference between Safewalk and the self-defence classes. "But we’re going to plug away at it, and the service will still be provided for students."

In the meantime, plans are underway to create separate bike and pedestrian paths on campus. Due to concerns about speeding cyclists, the most congested paths will be for walkers only as early as next year.

"People on bikes will be asked to dismount and walk their bikes," said Fritz. "Before we have any real serious accidents, I think we want to take the proactive approach and try and have a pathway system that can be compatible for both cyclists and pedestrians."

Any students who would like a Safewalk escort to their car, bus stop or LRT station can call 220-5333. The program runs daily from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., but Campus Security provides Safewalks 24 hours per day.


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