Police aware of campus theft

With three crime alerts since July 2 and an increase in theft on the Coral Gables campus, university police are implementing new tactics to curb crime.

Bicycle thefts have increased significantly this semester compared to past years, University of Miami Chief of Police David Rivero said.

In response, UMPD plans to implement mandatory bicycle registration for the spring semester. Also, any unlocked or abandoned bicycle will be immediately confiscated, as this attracts criminals, Rivero said.

A police report on Nov.7 said that GPS units in cars have been targeted recently. Rivero said the university has been using sting operations to catch vehicle burglars.

For example, an unlocked rental car is placed in a “heavy theft zone,” most often a parking lot, with a laptop sitting where it can be seen, usually in the back seat.

So far, no one has taken the bait, but Rivero said that since the sting operations have been implemented, thefts have decreased.

Still, sophomore Rachel Silberman said seeing doesn’t always lead to stealing.

“I left my cell phone on top of my car before my first class at 10:30 a.m. a few weeks ago,” she said. “I came back at 4 p.m., and it was still sitting there.”

John Pepper, crime prevention coordinator for UMPD, said “theft of unattended and unsecured property is the number one crime on the Coral Gables campus – usually 50 to 80 percent of all crime every month.”

Junior Aaron Helligman said his car was broken into last semester.

“Somehow they pried open the door and stole my radar detector,” he said. “With all the security around, that seems like a pretty hefty task.”

In the past months, two known criminals have been arrested for loitering and prowling on the Coral Gables campus. After a warning, Rivero and other officers tell offenders “you can never come back. If you do, we’re going to arrest you.”

“That’s the beauty of UM,” Rivero said. “We’re private property.”

UMPD asks anyone with information regarding any crime, or information that may lead to the arrest of those responsible to call 305.284.6666 or Crimestoppers at 305.471.TIPS. Informants’ anonymity is guaranteed and may receive a cash reward.

“[The department is] trying to educate our folks by using crime alerts and by way of crime prevention presentations,” Rivero said. “We need everyone to be our eyes and ears.”

Joshua Newman may be contacted at j.newman4@umiami.edu.