Thefts on campus: take precaution

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Photo by Peter Pham

Property theft has always been an issue at Cal State Fullerton—it was among the most frequently reported crimes on campus last semester.

Because of the high numbers in property thefts, presentations are being given to further inform students on campus about how to handle their belongings while at CSUF.

“Property crime is the number one issue on our campus,” said Cpl. Paul McClain of University Police. “Our people-to-people crime are very low, even though they still occur on our campus, it’s just at a significantly infrequent rate… During all of our safety presentations—our tabling events—we try to educate our students and faculty-staff about proactive measures they can take to prevent theft of their property.”

Faculty and staff are urged to close and lock the doors behind them whenever they leave their offices with valuables inside.

McClain said if staff members are unable to lock their door, it is recommended that they lock their personal property in a drawer so that it is out of plain sight. He advises students to keep a close eye on their property as well.

Theft most frequently occurs in Pollak Library and the TSU, McClain said.

“What we find over the years is that students who are studying in those areas don’t want to be bothered by picking up their personal property, potentially leaving the table or study area to go get a drink or use the restroom,” McClain said.

Students should report thefts as soon as they occur. One of the biggest problems is that students wait, sometimes up to a month, before filing an official report with the University Police, McClain said. Students should also make a log of the make and model of their electronics.

“In the event that they lose a laptop or an iPhone, or whatever the case may be, when they file a police report those serial numbers can be provided to law enforcement to enter in the statewide automated property system,” McClain said. “It will also help us facilitate investigations.”

Laptops, smartphones, books, wallets, purses and bikes are the most frequently stolen items. Other items include office supplies and state-owned equipment.

McClain said the sooner students take the time to come in and report thefts, the sooner the investigation can move along.

In the past, McClain said, there have been cases where people would try to open office doors and look for empty offices in the campus. He added that if someone was walking by, it would take them five seconds to take something valuable in an empty room and leave without anyone noticing.

Nguyen Quach, 24, a marketing major, recently had his phone stolen in the library.

“You leave your phone, your laptop, and valuables on the table for five minutes, you come back and everything is gone,” he said.

Sam Barrozo, 22, a staff member in the National Sciences and Mathematics Office, recently had a stool stolen from his department.

Barrozo’s department has many expensive electronics, including laptops, but he said they make sure to lock them up when leaving the work area.

“We have everything locked up at the end of the day,” he said.

Barrozo, who was once a student, was sometimes tempted to leave his belongings behind when he needed to use the bathroom.

“Obviously, for outdoors, I wouldn’t trust leaving anything outdoors,” Barrozo said. “But if you’re at the library or office, you should feel safe.”

Students and faculty-staff are advised to keep a close eye on their belongings, regardless how safe things look.

“We try to do everything we can with safety presentations (and) getting educational awareness to the community,” McClain said. “Without the cooperation of the campus community, it’s hard for us because there’s so many students versus the number of police officers.”

Because of the volume of students on campus, it is projected that property thefts will continue to be an issue, and that the campus community needs to work together to address the issue, McClain said.

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