During the first two months of 2009, there were 23 cases of malicious destruction of property to a motor vehicle or larceny from a motor vehicle reported in 11 lots around campus.
While only two of these cases are still open, this doesn’t mean that Public Safety has found the culprits in the remaining 21. Often, when all leads have been checked and no suspects have been found, Public Safety will close the case until further information is brought to their attention.
Something needs to be done to curb such activity in the campus parking lots. The university has been struggling with problems such as these long before this semester. In the last 12 days of last April, there were 10 of the same types of cases on campus. In the previous month, seven catalytic converters were stolen from cars across campus.
To ensure crimes like these happen less often, Public Safety can either increase patrols in and around the lots or install cameras.
Public Safety says that only high-end cameras would provide police with enough detail – like color and zoom – to actually pursue any suspects. While the expense of such a system is a valid concern, Michigan Tech has cameras in its parking lots, and the university has effectively used this technology to cut down on crime in the lots.
Although NMU has three times more parking lots than Tech, Northern doesn’t need three times as many cameras. Cameras are not as needed in commuter or faculty-staff lots simply because people are driving in and out of those lots all day. Rather, surveillance equipment could be placed only in the lots where overnight parking is allowed.
It’s much less likely that a criminal would be caught in the act in lots where people leave their cars unattended for days at a time. For example, nearly half of the previously mentioned cases took place in Lots 46 and 16. In Lot 46 alone, nine motor vehicle crimes occurred in those two months. Both of these lots allow overnight parking.
Placing cameras in at least the overnight lots would help deter criminals and would also serve as a testing ground for the viability of such surveillance equipment.
While the installation of security cameras will certainly cost money, it seems more than warranted. Students pay thousands of dollars to attend this university, before shelling out $130 for a parking pass.
The least they should be able to expect is that their cars won’t get vandalized and broken into.