On Jan. 23, the University’s Department of Public Safety released a third bulletin this academic year detailing an increase in car thefts across University parking areas.
The latest email states that the cars targeted in thefts have recently been Kias and Hyundais, with the reasoning behind this increase for these models being a current TikTok challenge. There has also been an increase in car parts being stolen including catalytic converters, especially in hybrid vehicles, SUVs, or trucks.
Students with parking permits expressed concerns over the recent increase in car theft among the University parking areas. Sophomore George Mechalke, who parks their car in the Valentine lot at Southside, saw the aftermath of a Jeep break-in on Monday morning as they went to check on their car. Photos of the active break-in, and the subsequent damage, were distributed in the Southside Living Area community chat on GroupMe.
Mechalke explained, “It seems DPS [the Department of Public Safety] sits in the parking lot a lot, and it’s frustrating that the one time that they weren’t there, people’s cars got broken into.”
DPS’s procedure after a car is reported as stolen is having officers conduct an extensive search of the area. Investigations are supposed to coordinate with other law enforcement agencies across the state by sharing information and updating law enforcement databases to track license plates.
The department has been taking steps to be more responsive after a car theft has been reported. In correspondence with the Campus Times, the department said, “We (DPS) are working in concert with area law enforcement agencies and the regional auto theft task force in an attempt to identify suspects, as well as assisting in recovering stolen vehicles.”
When asked for more details regarding the increase in car thefts, DPS emphasized, “Unfortunately, the University is part of a local and national trend with the increase in car thefts. Monroe County and the City of Rochester have seen this increase as well.”
DPS has claimed progress has been made in some cases in identifying suspects and retrieving the stolen vehicles. Their next steps include providing extra attention to all University’s parking areas rather than just Brooks Crossing and Riverview residential areas where some vehicles were damaged as detailed in the Dec. 5, 2022 university-wide Public Safety bulletin. In addition, fliers have been hung up in residential areas detailing tips to prevent car thefts.
These tips include:
- Never leave your keys in your vehicle.
- Always lock your vehicle upon exiting.
- Remove all valuables from your vehicle.
- Invest in a steering wheel locking device.
- Invest in a vehicle security alarm.
- Contact a Kia or Hyundai dealership for additional guidance.
Students are encouraged to call or text Public Safety at 585-275-3333 if they see any suspicious or criminal activity.