Grand theft auto

By By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

Around this time last year, Sarah Hudson was walking from class to the Rice-Eccles Stadium parking lot in pouring rain.

She walked up and down the aisles of cars, attempting to find her 1998 Honda Civic as darkness crept over the sky.

After getting “completely soaked” from the rain, Hudson gave up and realized her car had been stolen.

“It was really frustrating because the same thing had happened the year before,” said the senior in biomedical engineering.

Over the past year, an increasing number of students have found their cars missing from campus lots.

The number of stolen vehicles rose by 32 percent in 2006. Thirty-seven vehicles were stolen-12 more than in 2005. This includes 32 cars, four golf carts and one flatbed trailer.

The vehicles were stolen from various campus locations, ranging from the Field House to the Kindercare lot. The majority of vehicles-five-were taken from the Merrill Engineering Building parking lot.

The stadium parking lot was the second-most-prominent location for stolen cars.

Most of the cars that were stolen were Honda Civics, which are also the most stolen cars in the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s list for 2006.

Capt. Lynn Mitchell from the U Police Department offered advice for students driving highly targeted cars.

“If you drive a vehicle that shows a statistically high rate of theft, you might try parking in more public areas or closer to pedestrian traffic,” Mitchell said.

Luckily, Hudson’s car was recovered both times it was stolen. Eight of the 37 vehicles stolen last year were recovered.

To prevent future theft and burglary, Mitchell recommends installing a kill switch that disconnects the car’s battery. Also, buying a fuel meter (which limits the fuel available in the car unless the proper key is in the ignition) and purchasing a quality vehicle car alarm can help prevent cars from becoming targets.

“Items such as The Club, which locks the steering wheel, may also discourage a thief,” Mitchell said.

The number of vehicle burglaries- when items are taken upon entry of a vehicle-also rose last year, with a total of 130 incidents reported to campus police. This was 19 more than the year before.

Sgt. Lynn Rohland from the U Police Department said the number one mistake students make that leads to vehicle burglary is leaving their belongings in full view.

“Whether the car is locked or not, if someone sees something and wants it bad enough, they will take it,” Rohland said.

Watching out for fellow students may also reduce crime, Mitchell said.

“A lot of people hear car alarms go off, but they don’t do anything about it,” Mitchell said. “Look out for one another; don’t just look at it and walk away.”

Students who witness or suspect vehicle theft or burglary can report it to campus police at 585-2677.

Josh Lee

Thirty-seven cars were stolen from the U campus in 2006, a 32 percent rise from 2005. Capt. Lynn Mitchell from the U Police Department said that some students use The Club, a steering wheel lock, to help protect their cars from theft.