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November 21, 2013

Lot 80 an easy target, warn police

Several students already victimized by thieves

By Alberto Paneccasio

Recently Cleveland State University police have been asking students, faculty and staff to walk with care around campus, especially after regular hours. The recommendation is “put your junk in your trunk” after you park your car on campus.

There have been several incidents regarding vandals breaking into cars and stealing their belongings.

There have been five cars in the past six weeks where the ignition was broken because according to Ronald Morenz, captain of the university police department, they are easier to steal.

“Whoever is doing this, is not very good at doing it,” said Morenz.

According to police these vandals are targeting Chrysler-Dodge vehicles that we’re made between 2001-2005 in Lot 80. The Lot 80, between Prospect Ave and Carnegie Ave, has been in the police blotter all semester and is probably one of the most dangerous lots to park in.

“Lot 80 is a mixed lot it is not just used by Cleveland State University students but used for people at the YMCA as well,” said Morenz. Captain Morenz pointed out that students and people at the YMCA leave their cars unlocked or have their GPS system cradle hanging in the window and that gives those vandals reason to break in and grab the GPS system that is in the glove box or lock box in the car.

Additionally, some people leave laptops, expensive headphones and other very valuable items in plain site in their vehicles. This triggers thieves to break the window of the vehicles and take whatever they can including the ignition because some cars are very easy to steal.

“People are making themselves the victim, they have to help us keep them from being the victim,” said Morenz.

The Cleveland State police department is putting up signs all over campus saying “Put your junk in your trunk” to avoid these occurrences.

Morenz encouraged that signs such as “See something, say something” and “Put your junk in the trunk” help students on campus be safe and secure.

However despite all these programs it is not sinking in with everybody, Morenz feels. This is likely because many students might be thinking that this will never happen to me.

It is not like the police department is not doing their job. The police have been patrolling the Lot 80 and other areas on a regular basis. In the last several months they have patrolled the lot 866 times.

When students are talking on their iPhone while walking to class at night or during the day they are becoming the victim and should be more aware of their surroundings. This is like a having a big neon sign on you that says rob me.

Students on campus are encouraged if they feel unsafe to call 2020 and call for an escort to show them to their car or class or even to lunch if they want. You will see some escorts wearing a lime green shirt that tells you they are “Campus Safety Officers”.

“This program has been in store since the late 80’s/90’s and this year we have enhanced the program since last year, by hiring more and changing their attire so they stand out more, professionalize themselves as well, “ said Beverly J. Pettrey, Crime Prevention Officer, Cleveland State University police.

The student escort service has been enhanced by making the service available more often and frequently throughout the day. These escorts start their shifts at 12:30 p.m. and end at 11:00 p.m. at night. The outfits of the campus safety escorts were changed to lime green shirts so they could not be mistaken for construction workers or parking employees who wear orange vests.

“The campus safety officer program basically is to increase visibility, safety, and help identify issues on campus for police and their primary function is to be available to safely escort students on campus to anywhere on campus,” said Pettrey.

Statistics show that from the beginning of this year 2,504 students used the safety escort service. These campus safety officers go through basic training before being escorts for the police department such as CPR training and safety precaution classes.

Opportunity theft is on the rise on campus and is up 4%.

The “Campus Safety Officers” have to be a student and is run through Career Services. “Student serving the campus.”

A word from your Captain and your Crime Prevention Officer of the Cleveland State University Police department:

“If anyone feels any inkling of being uncomfortable, call 2020 and get an escort, if you feel uncomfortable go back to where you feel comfortable and where it was safe and re-evaluate, and make a better choice go with your instincts.”

Safety Tips:

 Know your environment. Know where the emergency phones are located.
 Notify Campus Police of any suspicious person or activity. Pay attention to physical description (hair, eyes, complexion, height, weight, and clothing.)
 Trust your instincts and use common sense. Stay away from strangers and suspicious situations.
 Walk in groups whenever possible. Use the Escort Service when alone especially at night.
 Walk in well-lit areas following the flow of pedestrian traffic.
 Lock your doors. Take your keys. It only takes a few seconds for a thief to take your valuables.

Non-Emergency or Escort Service: 1-216-687-2020