by Rima Thompson
Within the last three weeks, several University of La Verne students have become victims of on-campus theft.
Last week, sophomore Alexis Carrillo’s laptop was stolen from her room in Stu-Han dormitory minutes after she walked down the hall to a friend’s room.
Sophomore Jill Hundshamer was a victim of theft last week, when her Toyota Camry was stolen and later found in Riverside, with part of the engine, CD player and car battery taken out.
And two weeks prior to this incident, senior Cecilia Covarrubias had 100 CDs stolen from her car.
Carrillo recalls the events leading up to the burglary of her laptop.
“I was typing some stuff up on the computer, and I had to ask my friend something,” Carrillo said. “Like people do in Stu-Han, I left my door open and walked out. I saw two people knocking at a door, and I thought they were friends of the (neighbors). I went to my friend’s room, asked her a question, I wasn’t in there for more than a minute.”
Upon her return, Carrillo noticed her battery charger, CD burner and computer charger lying on the floor. She proceeded to knock on doors asking if anyone saw her laptop.
Carrillo notified Stephanie Miller, the resident assistant on duty, who contacted housing and then Campus Safety.
“I was called by the victim and went up to the room,” said Campus Safety Supervisor Louis Silva. “I began questioning the victim on what happened. She stated that she had (left) her room and left her door open, went into another room down the hall and closed the door behind her in the other room. I guess this allowed two or three unidentified subjects to enter her room and take the laptop.”
Several witnesses reported seeing two males and one female in the area at the time of the theft, but no one saw any of the equipment, and no positive identification was made by press time Thursday.
After discovering her car missing from its parking spot on campus, Hundshamer went straight to the La Verne Police Department, where she filed a complaint before reporting it to Campus Safety.
In addition to the primary damage, several windows were smashed in, and personal items such as her backpack were stolen, Hundshamer said.
“I’m a lot more cautious now,” she said. “I take my keys with me, and I never leave the door open.”
To remind everyone about the danger of thefts, John Lentz, director of campus safety and transportation, will be distributing a safety bulletin.
Meanwhile, he advises: “Always lock your car; if you have valuables in the car, take them out and put them in the trunk; install an alarm in the car or use a club. You need to do as much as you can to harden the target so it makes it more difficult.”
Lentz also said that dorm residents must keep their doors locked.
“I know it sounds terrible, but if you walk down to go take a shower, lock your door and take your keys with you. If you are just going down the hall to talk to your friends, lock your door and take your keys,” he said. “While you may not let anybody else in, somebody else might.”
Because the University is located in a relatively small and safe neighborhood, residents let people into the dorms out of courtesy, Lentz said. He suggested questioning anyone you do not know before letting them into the dorm.
“If you see a guy outside waiting to get in, and he can’t call his girlfriend or have his girlfriend come get him, then I say don’t let him in,” Lentz said. “Refer him to your R.A. or call Campus Safety. We’ll come talk to the guy,” Lentz said.
“I lock my doors all the time now,” Carrillo said. “It really hurts because you think you’re in a safe place, but you really are not.”
Reporting to Campus Safety by her peers may have prevented Covarrubias’ CD loss, though she said she did not initially report the theft to them.
“I figured it was pointless, and if (Campus Safety) were doing their job, it probably wouldn’t have happened,” Covarrubias said.
It was actually during the Carrillo incident that Covarrubias told Lentz about her stolen CDs.
“He was actually really nice to me,” she said. “He wrote everything down and said I should I have told someone when it happened.”
Despite the recent thefts, Lentz said that it is not something that happens a lot on campus, but when it does, there are a series of them.
“It’s called a crime of opportunity,” Lentz said. “When we let down our guard, that is when things happen.”
It is important that if any crimes occur on campus that they be reported to Campus Safety so they can keep a record of it and react accordingly to construct a time frame and put out a warning if needed, Lentz said.
There is not much that Campus Safety can do to help victims like Carrillo, Hundshamer or Covarrubias unless physical evidence or suspects emerge.
“Our main job is to keep the community aware,” Lentz said.
The Campus Safety Department has the following suggestions to help avoid certain crimes on campus:
·Always lock your car. Have an alarm installed and use a “club” device.
· Never leave valuables in plain sight in your vehicle. Remove them or place them in the trunk.
· Do not allow strangers into the residence halls. Refer them to the R.A. or Campus Safety at extension 6666. Do not block open the exterior doors to the residence halls.
· Always lock the door to your room, even if you are only going to the bathroom.
· Always notify Campus Safety when a crime occurs, even if you have notified La Verne P.D.
Campus Safety reminds all that by working together, we may be able to reduce the incidence of crimes because security is everyone’s responsibility.