Columns Crime Infographic

Published on February 13th, 2017 | by Danika Thiele

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Campus security: are you really safe?

Safety and security on the Florida Southern campus is desperately lacking, though a history of repeat vandalisms and thefts have plagued the school.

The morning of Feb. 8, I opened a campus-wide email from Director of Campus Safety and Security Bill Carew in which he said, “As many of you are aware, there have been a number of car burglaries as well as property theft both on and adjacent to campus in recent weeks.”

Intrigued, I read on to hear about the prevention efforts currently being taken by the school, including installing additional cameras for more campus-wide coverage. My heart sank when I read the line where Carew said, “First, whenever possible, try not to leave valuables in plain sight in your vehicle.”

There were no valuables in my car when it was vandalized in 2015.

Around midnight on April 10, two men entered campus through the intramural fields, tested several car handles in the parking lot for unlocked cars and then targeted mine. The videotape showed them breaking into my soft-top convertible car, slashing it open and entering through the open roof in search of valuables.

A deep cut ran crookedly from one side to the other, a gaping hole in the top of my car. My car was in shambles and my roof absolutely ruined, about $1,000 in damage.

A week after the incident, a safety officer informed me he had a clear visual of one of the perpetrator’s faces caught on video and that he would send it to the Lakeland Police Department as soon as possible.

The LPD informed me the video was far too grainy and blurred to make out any definite details regarding the perpetrator’s face, and so the case had been dismissed. If the video had been better of quality, I would have had a definite case.

The day my incident occurred I posted a photo of my car on social media. I received more than 30 comments in response from friends who had similar experiences.

This was in 2015.

Political science major Pedro Cuervo endured a similar experience Jan. 10, as he incurred around $1,000 in damage to his vehicle and property after two young men broke into his vehicle and five others near the end of Harvard Road. The perpetrators smashed his driver-side window, rummaging through valuables and stealing his laptop which had been hidden under his passenger seat.

His incident, similar to my personal trauma, had happened because of security officers’ due negligence. No one was patrolling during the early morning of Jan. 10.

“I felt violated,” Cuervo said. “I also felt like the money that we all pay as students that goes towards campus safety is wasted to a certain extent. Since my incident, several others have occurred.”

Cuervo plans to address this issue in his senior seminar project, and is currently conducting research regarding other colleges’ approaches to preventing vandalism and theft on campus.

In regards to property crime, Lakeland is 73 percent higher than the average of Florida and 96 percent higher than the national average according to

According to the RAIDS online crime mapping system provided by the Lakeland Police Department, 16 thefts, two car thefts and one residential burglary have happened over the past year within the Florida Southern Campus. On nearby Pennsylvania Avenue, there is public record of an aggravated assault with shots fired within the past twelve months.

This is a call to action for all safety workers to improve cameras and increase patrols. In light of this multitude of reported crime in Lakeland, I wish the campus had, to quote Bill Carew’s recent campus-wide email, “take(n) strides to aid in prevention efforts” after preceding incidents and had not waited two years to take significant preventative action.

 

To learn more:

READ: Lakeland crime rate

READ: Lakeland online crime map

READ: Lakeland Police Department online page

READ: Campus safety and security contact

 

View the infographic.

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