Theft cases show uptick in first months of semester

Property theft was reported to the crime log this week. Grace Fortier | Photographer

By Matt Kyle | Staff Writer

In the last few months, there has been an uptick in the number of reported cases of theft and burglary on the Baylor campus and surrounding areas, including two cases of aggravated robbery that occurred last Thursday.

Waco PD spokesperson Cierra Shipley said that the uptick in theft can be attributed to the return of students to Baylor’s campus. She said this increase isn’t unusual, as Waco PD always sees a slight increase in theft cases when the new school year begins.

Shipley also said many cases of theft happen because people do not take preventative measures.

“A lot of the time, it’s because their cars weren’t locked or their doors were propped open,” Shipley said. “What we say as a police department is to make sure that these students are taking those preventative measures to not become victims.”

BUPD assistant Chief Don Rodman said that between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, there were 111 reported thefts on the Baylor campus, up from 99 cases of theft reported last year during the same time frame. He said the increase can be attributed to there being less students on campus last year due to COVID-19.

“2020 was an anomaly,” Rodman said. “When you factor in that this is a much more normal year of 2021, particularly the fall, we’re right about that same ballpark. You’re seeing more on the crime log, but you’re also seeing a lot more people out and about. From my perspective, we’re right on par from where we have been in the past.

Rodman said many cases of theft on the Baylor campus are “crimes of opportunity” and echoed that students should take preventative measures against theft.

“People will leave backpacks and then they’ll go to the washroom and they’ll come back and those items are going to be gone,” Rodman said. “On vehicle break-ins, the majority of those are people not securing the vehicle. A lot of times, you’ll see these individuals pulling on door handles, and if your doors are locked, most likely, they’re going to just go on to the next vehicle.”

Rodman pointed to Baylor’s “Hide it Lock it Take it” campaign as an example of the main preventative measures against theft. Rodman said that BUPD has partnered with the City of Waco for the campaign and that there has been a 50% reduction in car burglaries around the Baylor campus following the introduction of the campaign.

“The biggest thing is to lock your items up in the car, and then if you lock them in the car, you don’t want to leave them out in plain view,” Rodman said. “It’s just a mental checklist. Did I hide anything that was out visibly that was of value in my car? Did I take anything that was valuable that I couldn’t hide? And did I lock my car?”

Rodman also encouraged students to download the Rave Guardian app, which allows students to quickly get in contact with campus police in case of an emergency.

“It gives you the Baylor Police Department at the tip of your fingertips,” Rodman said.

The app allows users to call 911 by pressing a button, and it also has a tracking feature, through which a dispatcher can track you as you walk along a route and can alert friends and authorities if you do not arrive at your destination. Rodman said the app can also be used to send anonymous tips to BUPD.

Students who find themselves a victim of theft can contact 911 or Waco PD’s non-emergency line at 254-750-7500 to file a police report. BUPD can be contacted through the emergency line at 254-710-2222 or the non-emergency line at 254-710-2211.