Written by Jahsoulay W. Walton
Southern Adventist University’s Daily Crime and Fire Safety Log issued by Campus Safety shows that since Aug. 31, 2022, there have been approximately seven car-related thefts reported on Southern’s campus. Four of the thefts occurred on Jan. 20, according to the Daily Crime and Fire Safety Log. The reports show that there has been a string of thefts in several different locations across campus, such as the Student Park parking area, Southern Village, Talge main parking lot and Cafeteria Drive.
A car stolen from campus on Jan. 20 was a 2012 Chevrolet Malibu and was found back on campus on Feb. 15, according to Assistant Chief of Police Jamie Heath. In an email to the Accent, Heath wrote that the auto thefts, which occurred on Feb. 10 and 20 are still being investigated. Due to the ongoing investigations, Heath was unable to comment further on the thefts.
According to the log, most of these thefts happened to vehicles that were unlocked. In some instances, the vehicles also had keys inside. There is one case documented in the crime log that took place at the Student Park parking lot on Aug. 30. The vehicle window was broken and several items were stolen.
On Feb. 13, the Collegedale Police Department posted a story on its Instagram account that said, “An auto burglary was reported on the campus of Southern Adventist University, after an individual left their parked car unlocked while hiking. $400 in cash and a designer purse was stolen.”
The Accent contacted Shawn Haas, associate director for Campus Safety, to get his input on these thefts.
Haas explained that motor vehicle theft does not occur often on Southern’s campus. However, theft of items taken from within a vehicle occurs slightly more often, he said.
“From Jan. 1, 2019, to current, we have had 16 incidents,” Haas said. “We have not seen any increase or decrease [in theft]; the overwhelming majority of theft on our campus is what I would describe as a theft of opportunity: items left in general area, unlocked lockers [and/or] unsecured vehicles with valuable items in them.”
In light of the recent succession of car burglaries, Haas had this to say about how people should better protect themselves from theft:
“I believe the best way to approach thefts in general, or any other crime, is to take precautions. While in general Southern’s campus is a safe place to be, it is an open campus,” Haas said. “I would encourage the Southern community to take the same precautions here on campus as they would in any downtown metropolitan area. Do not leave valuables in a car. If you have to, make sure they are out of sight. Always lock your car with the windows rolled up.”
On behalf of the CPD, Heath also encouraged individuals to keep vehicle doors locked and to never leave keys or valuables in the vehicle.
“Most burglaries and thefts are simply crimes of opportunity, and every time we leave a door unlocked we provide that opportunity for someone to do us harm,” Heath wrote.
For more information about crime on campus, go to Southern.edu/campussafety and click the link that says “Daily Crime Log.”
Car related thefts reported from Southern Adventist University’s Daily Crime and Fire Safety Log issued by Campus Safety in the 22-23 school year
“Theft from Vehicle 08/31/2022, Student Park parking area, Vehicle window broken, multiple items taken out of vehicle, PD contacted Closed – Turned over to Local Law Enforcement”
“Theft from Vehicle 08/31/2022, Student Park parking area, Vehicle door unlocked, multiple items taken out of vehicle, PD contacted Closed – Turned over to Local Law Enforcement”
“Theft From Motor Vehicle 01/20/2023, Southern Village Student reported car was rummaged through with nothing missing, 01/23/2023, Student Called to update that item was missing from vehicle, forwarded to Local Law Enforcement.”
“Motor Vehicle Theft, 01/20/2023, Cafeteria Drive Vehicle reported stolen, vehicle unlocked with keys in it, Local Law Enforcement Called Closed, Turned over to Local Law Enforcement”
“Theft From Motor Vehicle 01/20/2023, Talge Main Lot Items taken from unlocked vehicle, Victim declined police informational report filed with Collegedale PD by campus safety Closed”
“Theft From Motor Vehicle 1/20/2023, Southern Village Apartments Items taken from unlocked vehicle, Victim declined police, informational report filed with Collegedale PD by campus safety Closed”
“Theft From Motor Vehicle 02/10/2023 Summerour Lot Several items taken from unlocked car Closed – Turned over to Local Law Enforcement”