The first few days of the semester proved productive, not for campus scholars but for parking lot prowlers. Monday, January 22, the first day of the semester, a ’92 Honda Civic was stolen from the East parking lot while the owner was in class. According to Chief Wilkinson, the owner of the vehicle did everything right. “He locked the vehicle, put all the personal property in the trunk or glove box, and didn’t televise.” However, it may have been his car type that was attractive, not what was inside.
Following Monday’s incident, on Wednesday, January 24, at approximately 12:30 p.m., four young Asian males were spotted in the West parking lot talking with the campus police. They were dressed in baggy clothing. One was wearing a loose flannel shirt with a black beanie and oversized black gloves. According to Wilkinson, the young men were approached by campus police when the police identified gang-affiliated colors on their clothes. One of the young men claimed to be in town visiting family. One was 19 years old, and two were juveniles. None were students at Yuba College.
Parking lot paranoia among students has increased over the years, but oddly enough, vehicle theft on campus has been sporadic. According to the Office of Postsecondary Education, in 2003 three vehicles were reported stolen at Yuba College; 2004 brought in another three reported car thefts; but in 2005 no vehicles were reported stolen.
No vehicles were reported stolen on the Woodland campus in 2003, 2004 or 2005.
When actual thefts or break-ins occur, the victim is usually in class. As Chief Wilkinson stated, “Some of the suspects who steal cars are sophisticated enough to know that and have a type of device or screwdriver to pop the lock.” The biggest issue for vehicles on campus seems to be “hit and runs.”
Several things are being done in an attempt to prevent more break-ins. Cameras have recently been installed in the parking lot on the Woodland Campus and are supposed to shortly appear in Marysville. The funding for cameras comes from the $40 students and staff pay for parking passes every semester. The money goes into a district fund that supports the Marysville, Woodland and Clear Lake campuses. The fee for parking is currently the highest amount allowed for a community college to enforce upon its students.
Within the past year the district has reaped the benefits of the funds. Along with the refurbished West parking lot and the soon-to-be installed cameras on the Marysville campus, both Woodland and Marysville will be receiving the installation of a one-day parking pass dispenser to make buying one-day parking passes more convenient. Woodland will receive only one, while the Marysville campus will recieve a total of three despensers. Call boxes have also been somewhat of an advantage for students who need help starting their car.
Although the campus police are almost always on site, when they are not, they always have an officer on call. The cheif confirmed that the officers do protect student vehicles during evening classes, but their office does close at some point.
The district employs eight police officers. Chief Wilkinson said,” I don’t know if it’s sufficient or not, but I think they do a good job.” Usually only two or three police officers are on campus at a time. Cadettes are allowed to patrol the parking lots and issue tickets. The cadettes are helpful to a short staffed office such as the districts.
Chief Wilkinson has made it clear that the district police are doing everything in their power to end crime in our parking lots. Students are advised to lock their cars, avoid advertising valuables by leaving them on the seats or out in the open and attempt to park in a well lit, highly visible area.
The vehicle stolen from campus on the January 22 was obtained by the highway patrol in Yuba City later that day. The four young men in the West parking lot were asked not to return unless they were registering for classes.
Campus police also ask that if you hit, bump, scratch or damage another vehicle in any way, to be courteous and leave a note or contact the owner by any means.