On Dec. 11 around 2 a.m., multiple cars were vandalized in the Coughlin residence hall parking lot.
Campus Security and Public Safety (CSPS) was first called to Coughlin around 2:06 a.m. on Friday morning and scanned the area for signs of other criminal activity or evidence, said Phillip Tyler, crime prevention and education officer for CSPS, via email.
After finding more cars with similar damage, CSPS verified who owns each of the cars and contacted them, Tyler said. The break-ins were random, with car windows quickly smashed and the glove box and center consoles of the cars rummaged for items of value.
According to Tyler, CSPS was able to get video evidence of the suspect and their vehicle.
“Despite the broken windows and subsequent deductibles and repairs, the thieves did not net much property, in fact, most of the vehicle owners reported nothing missing,” Tyler said.
A student called CSPS to report the suspect, and from there, Campus Security’s dispatch center was able to get the suspect on camera and get information about their vehicle, said Becky Wilkey, director of CSPS.
Spokane Police Department (SPD), which CSPS contracts with on weekends, was in the area and was relayed the information. SPD officers got to the scene within two to three minutes and started looking for other impacted vehicles, then began contacting vehicle owners, Wilkey said.
Chloe O’Meara, a first-year business major whose car was broken into that night, said she did not find out that her car was one of the ones broken into until 7 p.m. the next day. O’Meara said CSPS started calling people around 3 a.m. after the break-ins occurred, but many of the people they called were asleep and were left voicemails.
“I’m not really sure what their communication was,” O’Meara said. “Whatever it was wasn’t enough to make me understand before 7 p.m. the next night.”
O’Meara said that CSPS left her a voicemail, but no one had repeatedly tried to contact her to inform her that her car was broken into, so she did not realize that it was vandalized until later. Nothing was taken from O’Meara’s car, but the driver’s side window of her car was smashed in, and there was glass on the ground which was not cleaned up at the time she went to check on her car, but was later taken care of by plant services.
Cars in both the outside area of the Coughlin parking lot and the covered area were vandalized by smashing the car windows.
According to O’Meara, the person who vandalized the cars drove up to the Coughlin parking lot in an Audi with no license plates and was in and out of the parking lot fairly quickly.
“…it wasn’t even like [CSPS] were alerted based on like security footage or like an alarm, it had to be called in for it to be recognized, which is like on a security and safety note is really poor,” O’Meara said.
Joe Dorey, a first-year kinesiology major whose car was also vandalized that night, said CSPS called him multiple times at 4 a.m. after the incident occurred, but he was asleep when they called. He saw the calls at 5 a.m. and went to go check on his car and found that the back windshield of the car was shattered.
Dorey said that jumper cables and a screwdriver were stolen from his car, and that CSPS gave him a number to call should he decide to file a police report. After the initial calls, CSPS did not follow up with him, he said.
“I was kinda disappointed, [because] I feel like I never really heard from them again after that, and I feel like they [Campus Security] didn’t explain much,” Dorey said. “They said there was security footage, but they didn’t really talk about who did it or what happened. They just kinda left me on my own to figure it out on my own.”
Tyler said vehicle prowls are crimes of opportunity and happen throughout campus and in the Logan Neighborhood, and that CSPS frequently patrols areas of campus to deter crime. Going forward, Wilkey is working on hiring crowd management staff to add another layer of protection and observation by deploying them to different locations around campus, he said.
“The difficulty with crimes of opportunity, such as these vehicle prowls, is that they are random and are committed quickly,” Tyler said. “Campus Security and Public Safety has sent out a Morning Mail reminder regarding vehicle safety tips and holiday parking. We want to thank our students, staff, and faculty for doing their part and removing opportunities for theft from their vehicles.”