At the start of the new year, there has been a climbing number of car break-ins on Eastern Kentucky University’s campus. Brandon Collins, lieutenant of the EKU Police Department, said the majority of car break-ins have been the result of people forgetting to lock their car doors.
“The first week of January is when they started picking up a bit. I’ve got eight different incidents where contents were taken from a vehicle, and out of all those eight particular times there was no forced entry which means it was a crime of opportunity,” said Collins.
At the time of the interview, eight break-ins had been reported, but at the time of print, an additional break-in had been reported bringing the total to nine.
Collins said some people will just walk by and check cars to see if they are unlocked and then search the car for valuables.
“People can be walking by during any time of day just pulling on door handles and seeing if somebody left their vehicles locked and that’s the majority of cases that we are seeing,” Collins said.
Collins also offered advice on how to report suspicious activity, “A big thing is calling the police department to let us know if you see individuals walking through the parking lot that look suspicious. For example, someone walking through the parking lot and looking into vehicles. You could also use the LiveSafe app to send us messages, then we can send an officer out to check and see if everything is in order,” Collins said.
One student fell victim to the recent break-ins. Tyler Shelton, 18, a junior studying public relations from Ironton, OH, had her car broken into recently. She said upon seeing her car she noticed it had been tampered with and when she got into her vehicle it smelled of cigarette smoke, eventually she was able to get ahold of her RA and sometime later called EKU police.
“I went to my car and when I unlocked it I noticed that all the compartments had been opened and there was stuff everywhere, and as soon as I opened the door I could smell a really bad smoke smell so I called my RA and he helped me look through the car, and after talking to my dad we came to the conclusion that I should call the cops,” Shelton said.
“I called campus police and they came super quick and they wrote up a police report. They inferred that the person who had broken into my car probably had slept in it over night because of the cold weather. Nothing came of the situation but a police report and a hard lesson to learn as there were no cameras in the area near her car,” said Shelton.
To prevent these situations Collins recommended taking all your valuable belongings with you from the car and simply double checking to make sure you have locked your doors.
“The top two prevention tips that I would give would be to remove any belongings from your vehicle, whether it be change or cash because usually there will be people walking through the parking lot and if they don’t see anything in your vehicle that piques their interest then they will just pass the car by. Also, lock your vehicle. Since the majority of our cases year-round are unforced then it would eliminate a lot of the problems,” Collins said.