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Justin Quaintance

Car theft up at the U of C according to campus security annual report

By Scott Strasser, February 10 2017 —

There were 10 motor vehicles stolen from the University of Calgary campus in 2016, according to campus security’s most recent annual report.

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Gysen said car theft can occur anywhere with a large concentration of cars on campus // Photo by Justin Quaintance

That’s two more than the eight vehicles reported stolen in 2015 and four more than the six reported in 2014. Since 2011, 46 vehicles have been reported stolen from campus — an average of just under eight per year.

Campus security manager of community operations Rick Gysen said the number of reported car thefts on campus is consistent with the number of thefts in surrounding neighbourhoods. He said the locations where vehicles are stolen at the U of C are more or less random.

“Anywhere you have a large concentration of vehicles, the potential is always there,” he said. “We’ve had some thefts from the Arts Parkade, we’ve had some thefts from the large lots on the north side — so lots 10, 11 and 12. I think we even had some from lot 32.”

Gysen said that car theft at the U of C is usually passed on to the Calgary Police Services.

“The owner [of the vehicle] will call us and report it to campus security. Then we’ll take some steps to determine if it indeed had been stolen,” Gysen said. “Once we determine that we have a legitimately missing vehicle, we call Calgary police or the owner calls Calgary police.”

When comparing car theft at the U of C with other Alberta post-secondary institutions, the size of the campus is a major factor.

At the University of Alberta, 13 cars were reported stolen in 2009, five in 2010, 11 in 2012 and 13 in 2013. 

One vehicle was reported stolen at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in the last seven months. At Mount Royal University, two vehicles were reported stolen in 2016 and zero in 2015.

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46 cars have been reported stolen at the U of C since 2011 // Photo by Justin Quaintance

Ritesh Narayan is a criminologist and lecturer in MRU’s criminal justice program. Narayan and some of his students are currently researching what factors lead to vehicle theft in areas that are particularly vulnerable to car theft in Calgary.

Narayan said universities are generally sheltered from car theft due to the amount of surveillance and the structure of campus roads, making it difficult for car thieves to make a quick getaway. He said car thefts that occur just off campus are more prevalent, as these areas are less likely to be under surveillance.

“What we notice is that a lot of car thefts occur around campus, as opposed to on campus,” Narayan said.

Narayan believes a possible reason for car thefts on university campuses could be due to student negligence when they are preoccupied with exams and projects.

“What has been noticed is that a lot of cars get stolen [on campus] during what I would classify as ‘crunch time,’ which is when midterms take place and also towards the end of semester when papers are due and students are getting ready for final exams,” he said. “Something as minor as locking their car can seem like a major task.”

In general, theft is an  ongoing problem at the U of C campus. According to campus security’s annual report, there were 307 reported incidents of theft under $5,000 in 2016 — a 50 per cent increase from 2015.

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