In an email sent to the Pomona College
student body Feb. 16, Senior Associate Dean Frank Bedoya and Interim Director of
Campus Safety Stan Skipworth wrote that there had been an increase in thefts
and suspicious activity across the Claremont University Consortium.
“In the past few days, items taken have
ranged from bicycles to personal electronic devices including a laptop, cell
phone and other important items,” Bedoya and Skipworth wrote. “Items have been stolen from unlocked residence
hall rooms. In addition to this, Campus Safety has received a series of
suspicious activity calls in different locations at the colleges.”
Emails sent from Campus Safety in the
past few weeks detail specific incidents of theft that have occurred. On Jan.
31, a car was stolen from Holden parking lot at Pitzer College. On Feb. 18, Max
Howard HM ‘17 was injured when his cellphone was stolen from him. Howard said that a car with three men pulled up next to him while he was walking to Harvey Mudd College from Pomona, and one asked
if he could borrow his phone to call a friend. After two unsuccessful phone calls, Howard departed and was followed again by the three men, who asked if they could use his phone to make another call. Then, the driver attempted to move away with Howard’s phone.
“I knew something was up, but there
was not really a lot I could do, so I just handed him the phone, when the car
started to drive away I just instinctively shot my hand out, and my right
arm got basically stuck between the window frame of the door and the driver’s
neck, and then that was when the driver just floored it,” Howard said. “Have you ever seen
those cartoons where someone grabs on to a train and they fly like a kite?
Yeah, that happened.”
Both cases remain unresolved and suspects have not been
identified, according to Skipworth.
In the four-month span from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, 2014, 152 incidents were reported to Campus Safety. In the two-month span from Jan. 1 to Feb. 23, 2015, there have been 167
incidents. Skipworth had some alternate theories as to the apparent increase in
crime on campus, besides the straightforward rise in crime. One possible reason
is Campus Safety’s increased effort to interact with and be available to
“I think we try to be more out there,
more in contact with our campuses and the people that are out there on a daily
basis,” Skipworth said. “And so they say, ‘Hey, well Campus Safety is here, I’m going to tell
them about something that happened.’ Or, ‘I wasn’t going to report my bike as
stolen, but they’re here, so I’m just going to point it out to them and see if
they can be on the lookout for it.’”
Skipworth also said that the time of year
may partially account for the increase, as students might have received new and expensive
items that some people might target.
Bike thefts make up a significant number of incidents on campus, with 18 reported bike thefts this school year alone. Skipworth explained that Campus Safety is currently working on a new, consortium-wide bike registration program to help combat this issue. In order for Campus Safety to effectively protect against theft, students must register their bikes.
“Particularly with bike thefts, if we have no victim, the police can’t do anything,” Bedoya said.
To ensure that Campus Safety is
prepared to handle new incidents, Skipworth explained that he is working on
training officers on his staff.
“We’ve really focused on an awful lot of
training to give them better information on how to look for things,
what things to be looking for, how to investigate [and] how to do interviews with
people that we’re not sure of to get better information from them to figure out
why they’re here and what they’re doing,” he said.
Frank Bedoya explained that students tend to leave their rooms unlocked and things unguarded.
“Help us help yourselves by locking your doors,” he said.
Both Skipworth and Bedoya emphasized that students could do more to prevent crime.
“We could have all the greatest security
systems and camera systems in place to watch the exterior areas, alarms in
certain areas, lots of other things going on,” Skipworth said. “But in the
grand scheme of things, if all of us working together don’t take the time to
lock our office doors, to lock our dorm rooms, we run the risk.”