Car prowls surge on campus

Since the beginning of winter quarter, Portland State’s Campus Public Safety Office has seen a rise in the number of reported vehicle break-ins, or car prowls, occurring on campus. Fourteen of these crimes were reported to CPSO in the first month of the quarter, between Jan. 6 and Feb. 2, according to CPSO’s public information board.

CPSO Chief Phil Zerzan said with the rise in these crimes being seen on campus, it’s possible that one subject is responsible for the crimes.

“A sudden rise in crime like this could be the work of a single suspect,” he said. “We’re viewing these crimes as a surge [in occurrence], not a trend.”

CPSO has arrested subjects who could be connected to these crimes, Zerzan said.

“In response to these crimes, CPSO has increased patrol presence in the areas where the car prowls are occurring, and as a result, we have arrested four individuals [who may have contributed to the thefts] in and around Parking Structure Three, where several of these crimes have occurred,” he said.

Those arrested were taken into custody for criminal trespass, drug possession or possession of burglary tools. None of those arrested were PSU students, and one was in possession of stolen property.

In addition to CPSO increasing their patrols in high crime areas, Zerzan said there are steps students themselves can take to protect their property.

“The most important way students can protect themselves is by removing their valuable property from their vehicle,” he said.

He added that if taking belongings with students isn’t an option, removing these items from plain to sight to the trunk of the car is advisable.

A flier issued by Portland Police Bureau titled “Don’t be a car prowl victim!” is available outside CPSO’s office in Shattuck Hall, room 148. The flier says that the downtown area is a “high car break in area” and also encourages students to remove valuables from their vehicles. The flier also lists examples of items that are considered valuables and should not be left in a vehicle: “[S]mall amounts of change and paper money, CD wallets, backpacks, briefcases, gym bags, sporting equipment, cameras, electronic equipment, purses, sunglasses, cell phones, checkbooks, banking information, etc.”

If students find themselves to be a victim of a car prowl, they are advised to contact CPSO immediately at 503-725-4407.