DPS, JPD warn campus about leaving items in plain sight

Nate Billings

Recently, several thefts have occurred on campus. A few of them involved vehicle damage.

Ken Kennedy, manager of the department of public safety, said the amount of crime on campus is relatively low. He said the thefts are not the beginning of a trend.

“It is not a big problem like the bigger universities across the state,” he said.

Thefts are not uncommon in Joplin either.

“As a city, we get numerous thefts from vehicles every month,” said Corporal Jim Wallace, supervisor of the crime prevention bureau with the Joplin Police Department.

He said the numbers cycle from month to month.

Kennedy said the biggest problem with stolen items is people not taking the precautions necessary to prevent a theft.

“Please don’t leave valuables lying in plain sight,” he said.

Kennedy said the temptation for a person to steal something increases if that person sees something easily accessible in someone’s vehicle.

Wallace agreed.

“Never leave keys in a car or your car running,” Wallace said.

He said the cold weather causes some people to leave their vehicles unattended while they visit a store while they shop.

Wallace said these vehicles are easy targets for thieves.

JPD Detective Sergeant Brian Lewis said there

are several cases of vehicle damage associated with thefts.

“They’ll bust a window,” he said. “I’ve had kids who’ve had their Bibles stolen.”

Lewis said the Bibles were in cases, which looked similar to CD holders.

There are other steps students can take to prevent thefts such as parking in a well-lit place and placing items in trunks.

“Be safe,” Wallace said. “Be aware of your surroundings. [Thieves] are generally looking for an opportunity. If you minimize the opportunity, you minimize the risk.”

Wallace also said students should note the serial numbers on their electronics.

“It helps us out dramatically,” he said.

Kennedy said there are several steps students should take if something is stolen from a vehicle on campus.

He said the students should first contact the DPS and then the JPD.

The DPS is not mandated to send reports to the JPD; therefore the reports are left up to the individuals.

Lewis said anyone who needs to file a report should call or visit the JPD lobby. Someone there will make sure a person’s case will be taken care of.

Kennedy said the DPS is also working on making the campus safer.

DPS officers patrol the residence hall side of campus during the midnight shifts. Also, DPS is planning to install cameras around campus.

The cameras will be placed in lots 43 (south side of campus, behind Leggett & Platt Athletic Center), 18 (south of Hughes Stadium), 19 (by the softball fields) and 25 (behind the residence halls) first. The rest of the parking lots will receive cameras afterward.

Kennedy said the camera system will likely be installed by the end of the spring semester.

“Two-thirds of the day, there would be someone to watch them,” Kennedy said.

He said there are several advantages of the camera system.

The first is to identify thieves and vandals. The second is to keep track of the campus when DPS cannot.

“You can always go back and watch the recording,” Kennedy said.

He said students can also take measures if they have information on campus crimes.

“If you have any information regarding the recent thefts, please contact the Department of Public Safety or JPD,” Kennedy said.

The DPS phone number is 626-2222. The JPD phone number is 623-3131.