Crime is an unfortunate part of college life. During the 2018 calendar year, 16 vehicles were reported stolen on campus while two were stolen off-campus. A recent alert shows an uptick in bike thefts on campus.
In a recent Missouri State Alert, the Springfield Police Department and Missouri State University Office of University Safety reported they had received over 20 reports of bicycle theft on campus in the last 30 days.
The report said students should register their bikes with campus security, make sure to get a U-lock and when locking up the bike, make sure to secure it to the proper rack.
These statements were echoed by Associate Director of University Safety Andrew Englert.
“Have a good U-bolt style lock,” Englert said. “Make sure to register it with our transportation office. Those two things can really reduce that crime. Those cable locks are really easy to cut, but if you use that U-bolt, secure it through the frame appropriately and not to the front tire. You’re less likely to be a victim of that kind of theft.”
Englert said there are around 700 cameras on campus, which means good coverage for observing any kind of criminal activity. He declined to comment on if the campus has blind spots, saying if there are any, cameras would either already be placed or are awaiting installation.
Moving from two wheels to four, Englert said always lock the doors of motor vehicles. Make sure to remove everything of value, no matter how small or big it is. Check the doors and also remember to remove keys.
“The criminal element is smart enough to realize that the thing that looks like a backpack with a sweatshirt thrown over it is probably a backpack,” Englert said. “Take those valuables out of your vehicle and be sure they are secured.”
Englert said steps have already been taken to make the campus a safer place. Lot 31 and Bear Park North have been equipped with LED lights to increase brightness. Bear Park South has added cameras, and Bear Park North is changing certain cameras to better identify attendants.
But this safety does not extend to everyone off-campus.
On Sept. 12, 2019, fifth-year chemistry education major Abby Ritter had her car stolen from the front of her apartment. Ritter immediately notified the police and her insurance agency.
The vehicle, as well as her wallet, ID and social security, were not found until a week later when a sheriff’s deputy pulled over a driver who had Ritter’s ID and social security on him. Police later found her vehicle pulled over on the side of the road.
Ritter’s insurance agency had given her a check for a new car. She still had to retrieve the license and parking tag from her old car. While there, she saw the state it was in.
“I had to claim some items from the stolen vehicle, and when I went to go check it out both of the front windows were busted out and there was trash everywhere,” Ritter said. “Seats were stained and it was just a mess so it’s a good thing we went ahead and got the new Jeep. I was completely devastated to walk out and just have my car missing. I had no idea what to do and always thought something like that would never happen to me.”
Ritter said even though she was sad when her old Nissan Juke was stolen, she enjoys the new Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk and called it a “blessing in disguise.”
On campus, several blue light call stations are available to call university safety. To report any suspicious activity, call University Safety’s number at 417-836-5509. The main office of University Safety is located in Carrington Hall.