One of three cars stolen on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus in the past month has been located, according to John Backer, police operations captain for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Police Department.
UNLPD recently located a 2006 Toyota Camry valued at $1,611 that was stolen from a parking lot at 615 N. 19th St. on Friday, Nov. 1. Backer said UNLPD is using evidence from the vehicle to further its investigation. However, a 2016 Jeep Patriot, valued at $18,000, that was stolen from the East Campus Loop on the same day has not yet been located. Backer said UNLPD believes these two auto thefts are connected and the two cases are still under investigation.
The first auto theft, which occurred on Wednesday, Oct. 9, in the 14th & Avery Parking Garage and was reported the following Friday, has been closed, according to the UNLPD Daily Crime & Fire Log. The suspect stole a silver 2003 Saturn valued at $2,500, according to Lincoln Crime Stoppers and the crime log. Backer said this case could be reopened if new evidence emerges or the car is located.
UNLPD has rough physical descriptions of the suspects along with clothing descriptions. Backer said the suspects were able to steal the vehicles because they were unlocked.
“If you see anybody walking through a lot that doesn’t seem to be going to a specific car, [or] if they seem like they’re wandering through a lot, that’s something we want to know about and check out,” he said.
The public’s help is important to UNLPD in reducing crime on campus, according to Backer.
“We just ask for the public’s help and the UNL community’s help in securing all their valuables, [including] cars,” he said. “[Also] making sure their keys are kept safe because obviously once you have a key fob, you can go around and find the car that matches to it. Be our eyes and ears, and help report.”
Breanna Wilkinson, a freshman animal science major, said seeing theft happen on East Campus, where she lives, scares her.
“Usually this kind of stuff happens only on City [Campus], and they have been happening on East, so it’s just kind of scary to see that it’s happening closer to me,” Wilkinson said.
She said while she doesn’t have a car on campus, she is concerned for her friends’ cars.
“They don’t feel safe leaving stuff in their car,” she said. “[They’re] going back out to make sure it’s locked. It’s unsettling.”
Luke Molzer, a junior psychology major, said the car thefts could be representative of a bigger problem.
“Car thefts happen, and there’s probably a systemic problem underlying it that will show up eventually if it continues to be a recurring problem,” he said.
Alisa Dierkhising, a sophomore psychology major, also lives on East Campus and said she was both surprised and concerned to hear about the car thefts, but said that she still feels safe on campus.
“If it was more break-ins and there [was] damage to the cars, then I would feel a little more unsafe,” Dierkhising said. “I think if it keeps increasing then it needs to have more awareness about it because I know I’ve just [received] an email about it.”
Backer said campus safety is a priority, especially when the crime can affect the victim’s daily routine.
“We care about what we do, and we don’t like to see crime happen on campus,” he said. “We want it to be as safe as possible.”