Is Theft an On-Campus Issue?

By Drew Miller | Editor-in-Chief

and

Andrew Smith | Advisor

Around midnight between Oct. 6 and 7, Leslie had just laid down in her Lakeside Village bed when she heard a knock on her door. It was a friend, who heard from a friend that Leslie’s moped had been stolen only moments before. 

Her heart dropped. She’s brought her moped with her all the way from her home in North Georgia. While she hadn’t used it as much as she anticipated, Leslie, who asked that her last name not be used for this story, still traveled to St. Simons Island regularly on the motorized vehicle. 

Campus police were already on the scene when Leslie arrived to the bike rack just outside the entrance to Lakeside Village. To ensure that the bicycles outside were safe, campus police relocated the bicycles to the interior of Lakeside Village. At this same time, two of the culprits were spotted joyriding the newly ascertained moped up and down Fourth Street by local police. 

Given that the jurisdiction of the Campus Police only extends 1,500 feet beyond the campus, the Brunswick Police Department was notified. Although the joyriders were lost, they were found the next day in an ironic twist; they were pulled over at a Chevron two miles away from campus for not wearing a helmet. One of the culprits was arrested. Both were juveniles. The City of Brunswick and College of Coastal Georgia are currently pressing charges against said criminals. 

Although Leslie’s moped was locked up via a U-Lock, the most recommended security measure one can use in regard to safety, bolt cutters ultimately broke the lock. The moped was returned after the perpetrator was apprehended, the vehicle was virtually destroyed; the front wheel locking mechanism, the trunk, the blinker lights, the undercarriage LED lights and gas filter were all tampered with and broken. The only way the vehicle can be started is by hot-wiring the ignition. Despite the destruction, Leslie remains hopeful, “At least I got a fresh paint job…” she said when commenting on the fresh coat of silver spray paint applied to her once orange colored vehicle painted by the thieves. 

Although Leslie is disappointed, she doesn’t feel the need to place the blame on anyone or anything in particular she replied

“It’s not the Campus’ fault, it’s not the police’s fault, it’s not my fault,” Leslie said. “All safety measures were taken and all precautions were noted. It’s the two kids’ that stole my mopeds fault. It’s just the way life works sometimes.”

Over the past year, bicycles thefts are one of the most common crimes outside of Lakeside Village, although illegal vehicle entries are an issue as well. Officer Christopher Parker, who serves as Campus Safety Department’s crime prevention officer, said there’s no way to stop every crime from occurring, but there are steps students can take to secure their belongings.

“It all boils down to personal responsibility,” said Parker, who has worked in law enforcement for more than a decade. “If students were to follow what we (College of Coastal Georgia Campus Police) recommend, theft would happen less. It is remarkable how many times we get calls that could have been prevented. Students leave their cars unlocked with valuables inside. This makes the cars easy targets.”

The commonalities in theft are based on factors that go hand in hand: lack of common sense and not taking basic security measures, Parker said. 

“It’s simple. Lock your stuff up. Use your brain,” Parker added. “Don’t leave your phone charging in the Library, leave for dinner, return and expect it to still be there. This is not your house. Keep that in mind.” 

While safety measures may or may not be acted upon, CCGA is an open campus and because of this fact, the probability and possibility of theft increases. Bear in mind the shade of the pines and blanket of night make valuables and easy target. The campus bicycle thefts have not been limited to student property. In 2014, four Mariner Recreation bikes were stolen from campus and led to the suspension of the campus rental program, according to Director of Student Activities Andrew Smith. 

“Students really benefitted from the rental program, which provided free 24-hour rentals, seven days a week during semesters,” Smith said. “It was a really hard decision to suspend the program, but we just couldn’t guarantee the bikes would be safe on campus, even when they were locked up. We’re hoping to roll out a modified version of the program in the spring semester.”

Parker confirmed that although some of the crime on campus is student on student, the majority of thefts stem from juveniles from the area surrounding the campus.

“If you see someone suspicious on campus, make contact or acknowledge that they are there,” Parker said. “This always makes those up to no good second guess their intentions.