By Harry Rowe | Staff Writer
A total of five motor vehicles were reported stolen on the 1200 block of James Avenue Sept. 4-5, according to Baylor’s Campus Crime and Fire Log.
Although the incident was reported on the log, the burglaries took place outside of Baylor’s regular crime report area. The log includes additional incidents outside of Baylor police’s normal range of patrol. Baylor’s log includes the EPRA, or extended patrol range area. This area reaches as far as South 17th Street.
Tonya Hudson, Baylor’s director of communications, explained that because it occurred in BUPD’s extended patrol, there’s a good chance the case is being dealt with by Waco Police; not all crimes listed in the log are dealt with by BUPD.
Even though this occurred near campus, BUPD said it is important to be aware of any potential danger hazards surrounding the Baylor area. Baylor has instituted the “Hide it Lock it Take it” program in response to car burglaries and how to prevent them.
Brad Wigtil, BUPD’s chief of police, sent out a statement about the new program encouraging faculty, staff and students to observe the following preventive measures to reduce the opportunity for car burglaries:
1. Without exception, always lock your vehicle and close the windows, regardless of the duration of your anticipated stay at any destination.
2. Leave nothing of value in the passenger compartment of your vehicle. Place valuable items in your trunk, if you do not have a trunk take your valuables with you. Even loose change on the console can be targeted.
3. If you have a car alarm system, make sure to activate it, even if your planned stay at a location is for a short duration.”
The HLT program is a national vehicle theft awareness program originating in San Diego. According to their website, $1.2 billion in personal property is taken from vehicles annually, and another 1.85 million only auto thefts and vehicle break-ins. Only 11 percent of those crimes were solved by the police.
Educating the public on HLT “removes the incentives of the thieves,” according to the Hide Lock Take’s website.
“This is why the awareness program has become so successful making it the fastest and most effective vehicle theft campaign of its kind,” the website said.
Although auto theft has had a downward trend since 1991, recent numbers show it has started to grow in the last couple years. There was a 3.8 percent increase in total auto thefts in 2015, and a 7.5 percent increase in 2016, according to the FBI. With so much money at stake, what’s to lose paying a little extra attention to that unlocked door?
“We had some car burglaries on campus, so we thought ‘Hey, what could we maybe do to curve that?’ It’s a nationwide program, so you might see some of those signs especially in all of our parking garages,” Wigtil said of the program in an earlier interview.