A series of nine car break-ins at various parking decks and lots on Emory’s campus were reported this past week to the Emory Police Department (EPD), according to EPD Sgt. Alex Mawson. EPD has received 17 reports of car break-ins total so far in 2018.
In the past week, break-ins have been reported at the Peavine parking lots, Water Tower Place and the parking deck of 1579 Avenue Place at Emory Point. EPD Sgt. Randall Terry, who is leading the investigation into the surge surge of break-ins, believes there is a relationship between the cases due to time of day, location and method of the crimes. Multiple reports involved a broken rear window, occured in the morning and affected vehicles parked in the Peavine lots.
Affected vehicles have primarily been pickups and large SUVs. Vehicles belonged to one Emory visitor, two Emory employees and six Emory students.
EPD does not have any lead suspects as of Jan. 22, but Terry told the Wheel that EPD is pursuing multiple leads.
One burglarized car was parked in Peavine II and belonged to an Emory employee. A passerby, another Emory employee, noticed the rear passenger side window broken at 6:52 a.m. on Jan. 19 and called police, who called the owner to the scene. The owner reported that a Heckler & Koch 40-caliber handgun, two Apple iPods and a backpack were stolen from the car, which are valued at a total of $1,920.
Although Emory does not permit firearms on campus, EPD is treating the case like any other missing item report, Terry said. Terry said that Emory will not take disciplinary action against the employee, who is a Campus Services (CS) mechanic.
A car window typically costs around $200 to replace, Mawson said.
EPD is working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Police because three other break-ins also occurred at the Atlanta VA Medical Center, which is outside of EPD’s jurisdiction. Because of the proximity of the reported locations, Mawson said investigators are sharing information with VA police. Individuals from patrol, crime prevention and investigations are all taking efforts toward resolving the cases, Terry said.
One student, a victim of a break-in on the evening of Jan. 19 at Emory Point, told the Wheel that he doesn’t blame anyone, but he wishes he knew why they chose his car.
“I was mostly surprised, because I drive a pretty beat-up 2003 pickup truck and the Emory Point basement garage usually has some nicer cars in it,” the student said. “I was wondering why they decide to go after my truck and [not] even take anything from it.”
The student was parked in the visitor section of the deck for the evening because his clicker to enter to secure area for residents was broken. Even so, he said that he had expected security to be a little tighter, so close to campus.
“It would have been nice if there were security cameras in the parking lot,” he said. “I always figured it was less likely to happen at Emory Point and around the Emory campus in general just because it’s got its own dedicated security detail and it just seemed like higher risk for people trying to break into stuff.”
He has always been “pretty cognizant about not leaving bags of computers in my car where people can see them,” but admitted that the incident reminded him to stay cautious.
Mawson advised that students stay vigilant when parking on campus.
“Remove all items of value from your vehicle. Make sure to roll up your vehicle’s windows and lock the vehicle’s doors,” Mawson wrote in a Jan. 22 email to the Wheel. “Unfortunately, these steps cannot guarantee that a vehicle will not be broken into, but ‘target hardening’ can help to reduce these incidents.”
Mawson also asks members of the community to contact EPD if they see someone loitering in parking areas, peering into vehicle windows, pulling at car handles or any damaged car windows or doors.