Though UD is a generally a safe campus, over the last year, there has been a rash of thefts and searches around vehicles. In a recent email, Dr. Gregory Roper, dean of students, conveyed a message from Chief Russell Greene regarding the problem and indicating that there have also been auto thefts.
“UD is a very safe campus, but we’ve had some troubles with theft these past weeks, including two car thefts and thefts from cars at the condos,” Roper said.
Roper’s “This week’s note” cautioned students to be aware of the recent crime. In his oft-humorous way, Roper advised students to keep valuables out of their cars and to report suspicious activities on the Rave Guardian app utilized by UDPD.
“Don’t leave anything in your car to tempt criminals—thieves don’t know that your backpack isn’t full of gold bullion, or your notebooks aren’t full of dollars, pesos, euros, yen, whatever. And lock your car, for cryin’ out loud—don’t make it easy for them! On campus, don’t leave laptops out untended,” he said.
Graham Harrison, a graduate student who lives in the condos and one of the victims, said that both of his family’s vehicles were rifled through sometime over Labor Day weekend, though only one thing was missing: a bluetooth speaker.
“I got into my car to go to work at 5:45 in the morning on the Tuesday after Labor Day,” Harrison said. “My stuff was rifled through … the doors were left open. My wife had left a change purse in there and it had been dumped out.”
Harrison described the thoroughness with which his vehicles had been searched from the sight of his condo’s window. He characterized it as a “ransacking.”
One reason that Harrison believes that only the bluetooth speaker was taken was that he had been burgled previously. He therefore took precautions to keep valuables out of his family’s vehicles. Even the bluetooth speaker was a mistake.
Even behind the protection of the fences of Westloop at the Diamond Interchange, a popular location for students to live near campus, the risk of theft remains. In April, senior history major Ross Snider woke up one morning to find many of his belongings missing from his car.
“Basically, I parked my car and I forgot to lock it and people came late at night and took my backpack and some of my books, so I guess it’s my bad,” he said.
Like Harrison, Snider’s car had been thoroughly searched. “All the compartments were open,” he said. Snider lost not only his iPad and airpods, but several of his textbooks. “They took the whole bag but I guess they probably could have made money off the textbooks too, which is wack,” he said.
According to the Clery Act, the university must report certain crimes including murder, bugulary, theft, as well as some hate and sex crimes, among others. According to UD’s 2021 Clery report, detailing such crimes within the university’s Clery jurisdiction between and including the years 2018-2020, there was only 1 report of burglary in 2020. Likewise, there was not a single report of auto theft since 2018.
The University Place Condominiums and Westloop at the Diamond Interchange fall outside of Clery reporting geography and so, the university does not have to report crimes which occur in them.
Regardless of whether the vehicles were locked or not, the incidents seem to fit the state’s legal definition for “burglary of vehicles” and, in the case where items were stolen, theft. Burglary of vehicles constitutes a Class A misdemeanor. The classification of theft as a crime correlates to the value of the item or items stolen.
Wherever the students happen to be living, the safest bet is to lock the car and avoid leaving any exposed valuables.