By Shianna Gibbons
Five weeks into the semester, Youngstown State University is experiencing an unprecedented amount of car break-ins.
Shawn Varso, YSU police chief, said there have been about 15 reported car break-ins since August. He also said the increase in car break-ins on campus reflects the increased vehicle crimes in the Youngstown and Mahoning County area.
“Canfield has been hit harder than us,” Varso said. “[Canfield] released a statement advising residents to not leave keys, wallets or valuables in their cars due to increased property theft out of cars, and car thefts.”
Varso said two arrests were made in connection to car break-ins on campus, but car break-ins are still happening.
“In each case that we’ve made an arrest, it’s been a different person,” Varso said. “We have CCTV footage from other incidents that have occurred. It’s not a concerted group working in tandem, and it’s different individuals every time.”
Varso said there is no discernible pattern to the car break-ins. They occur at all times and in the different parking spaces on campus. The first incident of arrest occurred Aug. 12, at 9:24 a.m. in the M70 Lot on Fifth Avenue. The second incident occurred Sept. 13, at 3:49 p.m. in the M61 Lot across from University Edge apartments.
According to the incident report from Aug. 12, one car in the M70 Lot was broken into while the owner was in football practice. After the officers detained the suspect, the YSU student went to the police station and reported $400 cash missing from the center console. The report mentions there were no signs of forced entry.
On Sept. 13, four cars were broken into in the M61 Lot across from The Edge apartments. One car had the driver’s side window smashed with a piece of concrete. Other vehicles showed no signs of forced entry. After the suspect was detained, officers discovered two change purses and a five-dollar bill and took them as evidence.
Maria Carter, a senior psychology major, had her car broken into on the Sept. 13 incident and was unaware her vehicle was broken into until later that night.
“I wasn’t even aware there were car break-ins, and I had to find out through the YikYak app,” Carter said. “I hadn’t been to my car since Monday morning. So, Tuesday night, when I heard about it, I checked my car.”
Carter didn’t file a separate report because she didn’t notice anything valuable missing. However, Carter’s car was included in the report because officers saw signs of entry, and Carter said she was parked next to the car with the smashed window.
“Approaching my car, I saw the glass all over the ground [next to my car],” Carter said. “My car was trashed, and everything in the glove box was thrown around my car.”
According to Varso, YSU isn’t liable for car damage or stolen property, but he said there are ways to lower the chances of people breaking into your car. The best way is to ensure your vehicle is locked.
“It’s less likely to happen to somebody [with] a locked vehicle,” Varso said. “Also, what leads to this is if a person can look at your vehicle and see change, money or laptops sitting right in the vehicle, they’re more [likely] to try to get into that vehicle than any other vehicle.”
If you believe your vehicle may have been broken into or damaged while on campus, YSU police can be reached at (330) 941-3527