SMCPD work to combat rising campus theft as semester starts.
Interim Police Chief Mark Kessler announced that campus theft was on the rise in the opening days of the Spring semester during the last Associated Students meeting on Monday. He said, "Get this message to your friends, your relatives, your loved ones. We're having a small amount of theft. The theft that's occurring are bicycles and iPhones. If you're around the library complex you may actually see that we have bulletins up of a young lady who's helping herself to iPhones. Watch your property. Don't leave it unattended even for a minute." Speaking to Corsair later, Chief Kessler revealed that five bikes and two iPhones have been stolen in the last two weeks. A younger female suspect presumed to be in her late teens or early 20s has been identified from security camera footage stealing an iPhone, first from the Math Complex, and then in the library near the computer lab over a two-day period during the first week of class. Kessler stated that the footage indicated that the suspect may have had some experience with theft saying, "You can tell she's done this before [from the footage]."
The SMCPD was also on the lookout for a bike thief, or possibly thieves, who have been responsible for five separate stolen bikes over the first two weeks of class and who have so far evaded being caught on surveillance cameras. As of the time of this article being published, the SMCPD did not want to release further information on their investigation into the stolen bikes other than to warn the SMC student body to ensure that they lock their bicycles with "proper" locks in their officially designated parking zones which are better monitored. Kessler stated that SMCPD officers would be willing to show students the best way to lock their bikes in order to best dissuade potential thieves.
"If you have a student that loses a $200 bike, that can be their rent. That can be their food for two weeks," said Kessler, acknowledging the potential financial severity of these kinds of thefts while stressing the need for the SMCPD to continue their community policing standards and remain approachable to the student body. At the same time he didn't feel that the recent spate of bike and phone thefts necessarily represented a trend saying, "I don't want to use the word uptick, because we're very fortunate. The thefts we have are a handful. When you look at the numbers of students we have on SMC, 35,000 . . . the amount of thefts and problems we have are in the very, very small amounts."
Though not directly related, several new hires to the force mentioned by Chief Kessler will likely make it easier for the SMCPD to conduct investigations into this recent spate of petty thefts. Kessler also warned about the potential danger of sleeping in the library specifically, saying that thieves have been known to abscond with the laptops of snoozing students in the past.
If anyone would like to report potential information about the bicycle or iPhone thieves, they can reach the SMCPD at (310) 434-4300.