Repairing our ‘weak link’

Campus needs patrols late at night, district support

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Marci Suela / The Advocate

By The Advocate, Editorial Board

About $6,500 in property was stolen from campus in four separate incidents over the summer.

Roughly $4,600 was Contra Costa College’s property while $1,900 belonged to Lathrop Construction Inc., the company that worked on the Campus Center and Classroom Building Project.

The Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board can prevent future thefts (grand) and burglaries by hiring more police officers to patrol the campus late at night—because at this time the campus is virtually defenseless.

Three characteristics that these four crimes have in common are that the suspects have still not been caught, the items were locked up and all items were taken late at night when there are not any campus police officers on patrol.

“Maybe they found our weak link,” Police Services Lt. Thomas Holt said.

“Our weak link is that we do not have the staff to keep a relief officer on campus all night long,” Holt said. “We rely on outside police departments (San Pablo and Richmond) to help us during that time. We have a good relationship with them, but they cannot be everywhere at once.”

The areas from where the items were stolen are the Lathrop Inc. construction trailers next to the Gymnasium in Lot 5 on Aug. 15, the Buildings and Ground’s storage area underneath the Comet Stadium bleachers on Aug. 4, the automotive services department’s vehicle yard on Aug. 2 and the golf cart lockup yard below the Applied Arts Building on June 29.

The Lathrop Inc. construction trailers was in the most illuminated area on campus while the Applied Arts Building, the Building and Grounds storage and the automotive services department vehicle yard are tucked away.

In the past, discussions about crime prevention at college administration meetings were focused on adding more surveillance cameras inside and outside buildings, and lights to poorly lit areas.

But neither deterred these suspects who are still on the loose.

The hardest hit in this string of thefts and burglaries was Buildings and Grounds, Lathrop Inc. and the Information Technology Department.

According to Police Services reports, Lathrop Inc. is missing 15 items, the most valuable were a $450 iPad and a $350 video camera, while Buildings and Grounds is without three STIHL chain saws, valued at $250 each, and a $400 leaf blower.

An information technology department golf cart, valued at $2,000, and a 1994 Honda Civic LX sedan, valued at $1,500, from the automotive department was also stolen.

Holt said the civic was found off campus. But the golf cart, which is used to lug computers around campus, is still missing.

Just like getting more lights and surveillance cameras, convincing the Governing Board to hire more police officers will take time, but having more officers on campus will help prevent crimes like these.

“Our staffing model right now is the problem,” Holt said. “We need enough police officers to staff people earlier in the morning, and have other officers stay later at night.”

While prevention methods such as cameras in key locations and improved lighting are a good start, hiring more eyes and ears is the best way to stop theft before more tools, vehicles or equipment is stolen.