Weeks before Thanksgiving break, several car break-ins and vandalism cases occurred on campus. Windows shattered, valuables stolen and no one yet caught for these acts continue to pose worry for students.
About two or three weeks ago, in a span of just a mere couple of days, five vehicles in the Remschel and Presser parking lots were broken into, and personal items were stolen. They ranged from GPS systems and DVD players to stereo items and more. Along with the unwanted and awful acts of violence and burglary, a car was also vandalized, but nothing was taken from it.
There are no similar qualities in the car break-ins. According to Chief Gary Sargent, who is in charge of the campus police force, a person or persons will just walk by a particular car and see something they want.
“Our working theory is that it’s not a college student,” Sargent said. “They are inexperienced people because the jobs are messy. Five years ago, there were many car burglaries where young individuals did it. At that time, they had a target group. That’s not the case this time.”
The incident happened roughly five years ago. Seventeen young men were involved and stole in one weekend several motor vehicles. They were known as the Belton Bandits.
The CID Investigator of the Belton Police Department, Larry Berg, believes that despite the recent events on campus, the city of Belton and the university are still a very safe place.
“I really think that car break-ins and theft category have really decreased,” he said. “We’ve caught a lot of kids.”
The statistics in recent years concerning threat to automobiles have remained fairly consistent on and off campus.
On the university grounds, there have only been a total of five car break-ins or theft in the past five years.
Ironically, for this low number of crimes, car break-ins are the hightest offenses reported on campus by students yearly.
As for the city of Belton, the numbers are slightly higher, however not by much. This is only due to the fact that Belton is a city and not a closed campus.
Sophomore art major Krista Troy lives in Remschel dorm and is shocked at the occurrences that have taken place in the parking lot where she parks her vehicle.
“It’s just plain wrong,” she said. “If somebody is desperate for anything, all they have to do is ask somebody on campus, and it’ll come their way. People here are caring enough to provide for one another, thus making these break-ins even more inexcusable.”
Both Cheif Sargent and Investigator Berg offer the same advice when it comes to safety and avoiding having automobiles and personal items becoming a target for theft.
“Secure all your property. Lock as many personal items in the trunk so they’re not seen to the public eye,” Sargent said. “Park in an area where there are streets lights. Also encourage people to park near the police station on campus.”
Berg, who has been with the Belton Police Department for more than 12 years, has seen these same type of crimes and people time and time again, and knows that he will continue to see them as long as he is on the force.
He believes young people who are getting caught for these crimes have no one to look up to in their lives. They don’t have any sense to change their ways and nobody to tell them to change.
“Most kids that are doing this are generational curses,” he said. “It’s a lack of fathering on the dads’ part that is causing all of these problems. There is always a way to fix the problems. It’s discipline.”