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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Public Safety issues warning after car break-ins and thefts

Published: September 21, 2007
Section: News

Three cars with shattered side windows were found at the Charles River apartment parking lots Wednesday morning by Brandeis police officers on patrol, said sources from the Department of Public Safety.

After contacting the cars owners it was discovered that two GPS Navigation Systems, a $150 iPod, iPod charger, and a purse containing a checkbook were stolen from these vehicles. Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan believes the cars were targeted because their valuble items. were in plain view.

The GPS Navigation systems were visible from the exterior and attached to the windshield with a suction cup. These are all crimes of opportunity, explained Callahan. It just takes a minute in the dark to look into someones car, break the window, and grab something.

Callahan sent the information about the break-ins to the Waltham police on Wednesday evening and there are now increased patrols by both police departments in the Charles River Road area.

This is the second or third bulletin Ive sent out to the campus in the last year, one was in last March. We are all very trusting people, but we should take the minute or so to lock up [our valuable items] in the trunk.

Alex Potashinsky 08, whose car was broken into last semester in the Foster Mods parking lot, stated, Im kind of angry that Brandeis isnt doing more about our immediate safety concerns and hasnt even put more cameras in the parking lots while money is being put towards other expensive security procedures like arming Brandeis police. The break-in on my car wasnt recorded on camera.

Potashinsky explained that the police told him at the time that there was not more camera surveillance on the parking lot due to financial reasons.

His iPod and radar detector were stolen and no suspect has been caught.

The Department of Public Safety would not disclose the number or location of cameras in the Foster Mods or Charles River Parking lots for security reasons.

Callahan explained that there has been an increase in the number of closed-circuit televisions during his nine years as Director of Public Safety but would not comment on whether or not there have been an increase in CCTV since last year. Callahan is reviewing CCTV footage to see if the Charles River incidents were recorded.

Callahan informed the community in a campus-wide email that the city of Waltham has experienced a number of recent thefts from parking lots inclusive of laptops left within vehicle interiors.

During the first 20 days of September there have been 16 car break-ins in Waltham, according to Officer John Piccirilli of the Waltham Police Department.

Last year, for this same 20 day period there was only one car break-in in Waltham. In August of this year there were three car break-ins.

The Waltham Police Department does not know why there is a sudden surge in car break-ins this year.

The Waltham Police could not disclose the exact location of all sixteen September break-ins, but reported that the break-ins seem to be scattered around Waltham with a focus in the hotel parking lots in northern Waltham. Two of the incidents this month happened in close proximity to Brandeis and one occurred in a liquor store parking lot by Main Street.

On Sept. 13 an unknown suspect smashed a drivers side window of a car parked in East Quad lot and an iPod, FM transmitter, and digital Kodak camera were stolen.

Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan does not know if that was an isolated incident or if there is any connection between the East Quad and the Charles River break-ins.

There is no reported lead suspect for the car break-ins at this time. I dont think its a student said Callahan. The Waltham police periodically have leads on people who perform these acts and update us when they have more information.

Suspects in these types of cases are found when Waltham police receive pertinent information or catch someone in the act, but many of these suspects are caught simply when they are stopped for something else, explained Callahan.

During the summer these crimes are not as prevalent, but when students move back these thefts kind of intensify when students move back to universities. Students are more prone to leave things unattended, said Callahan.

Its unfortunate that it happened here at Brandeis because people feel pretty safe here, but it is close to the city so it is not too surprising. People probably wouldnt have left their GPS equipment visible in other places, said Charles River resident Brittany MacFarland 08.

David Emer 09, who has a car on campus, said I feel that if you take some common-sense precautions your belongings will probably be safe. Anytime you leave your car for an extended period of time theres always a risk.