Police investigating car break-ins at Mesa

    Returning to UCSD after Christmas break was not a merry event for the students housed in the Mesa Apartments who found their car stereos stolen. UCSD Police Department sources indicate that eight burglaries have been reported so far, and expect the number to rise to over a dozen by the time every victim comes forward.

    UCSD police detectives speculate that the burglaries occurred early on Dec. 29, 2002. Thirteen cars were found with windows smashed and audio equipment stolen.

    According to officer A. B. Jenkins, who has served on the campus force since the mid-1980s, the university has “”never had a theft to this extent”” before.

    What is particularly odd about this occurrence is that car thieves usually step up their malefaction on campuses before major breaks and holidays. In November 2001, 29 cars were burglarized, and that number dropped to zero in December of that year.

    “”This may not be unusual for a shopping center during Christmas, but it is unusual for us,”” said UCSD police detective Douglas O’Dell.

    As of yet, detectives have no leads to pursue in apprehending these criminals.

    “”There’s usually not a lot of physical evidence to go on in [these cases],”” Jenkins said. “”We hope it’s a one-time event.””

    Police are likely to increase patrols in the area if they perceive a pattern to the thefts. They insist that the campus was under the same coverage during the break as during the quarter with regular police patrols and Community Service Officer operations, though CSOs will only go out to the Mesa Apartments on specific call-in requests.

    Sources in the Mesa Apartments administration were able to confirm the presence of a night watchman on Dec. 29, 2002. Unfortunately, that protection extends only to 2:30 a.m.

    With a thousand graduate, medical and child-rearing undergraduate students living at the Mesa complex, many UCSD students call these two-person apartments home for the holidays.

    There was no apparent pattern to the larcenies, with various makes and models being burglarized, though circumstances seem to indicate that the cars broken into lacked alarms. Police also think that there were several amateur burglars involved in this raid because so many car windows were smashed and stereos stolen.

    Despite this most recent rash of robbery, statistics show that this type of crime is fairly rare when compared with the 35,000 cars that move through UCSD on a daily basis. Grand theft auto and other parking lot crimes have been declining in recent years on par with the general decrease of such crimes in San Diego county.

    However, though stereo theft is moderately rare, recovering stolen property is even more so, especially in cases where victims cannot report the serial number of the equipment stolen. This unique identification makes it possible for police to track down stolen goods if the thief tries to pawn or otherwise sell it. It also allows the victim to reclaim the material.

    Police advise parking patrons to get an alarm, which they claim will pay for itself in lower insurance costs. Stereos with detachable faces can deter theft as well. Parking in busy and well-lit areas and keeping property out of your car and out of sight are less expensive tactics for protecting one’s self from losing property in parking lots, according to police.

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