They are watching you

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Posted Thu, May 1, 2014

Stop and call campus police if you witness a crime at Auraria. [Photo by: Tommy Trask]

CALL IT IN: Stop and call campus police if you witness a crime at Auraria. [Photo by: Tommy Trask]

DENVER, Auraria Campus—Becoming a victim of theft is always a possibility no matter where you are and thieves are very observant. Historically, Auraria’s sprawling commuter campus has been an inviting target for theives due to its vast array of public access points.

A mere quarter of the way through 2014, 31 thefts have already made their way onto the Auraria Police Department’s official crime blog. Of those 31 thefts, 26 percent of them took place at the PE building resulting in thousands of dollars in property losses to unsuspecting or forgetful students simply attempting to go to the gym to exercise or hangout.

Metro State University freshman Matt Ciancio realizes that theft is an ongoing problem. Though Ciancio personally has never been a victim of theft on campus, he still offers his opinion on the probability of theft at Auraria. “Me personally, nothing’s been stolen from me but I’m always wary,” Ciancio says.

What’s being stolen?

Everything from a company laptop to cell phones, a Macbook Pro, backpacks, car & house keys, as well as clothes, credit cards–and even shoes have been swiped from the PE building this year. One unfortunate student had his headphones stolen from his bag in the very same room he was working out in.

Cmdr. Greg Stahl, the Patrol Division Supervisor for Auraria Police Department is highly concerned about theft. Stahl communicates a common sense message regarding high theft rates at the PE building.

The Auraria Police Department's headquarters. [Photo by: Tommy Trask]

The Auraria Police Department’s headquarters. [Photo by: Tommy Trask]

“I never ever would criticize, or talk negatively about a crime victim. But in some instances, there are crimes of opportunity where people leave their property unlocked and unsecured in an open area,” Stahl says.

Auraria is not a closed campus and there are no current plans to make it that way, so lock your valuables in the trunk of your car and don’t even take them into the gym is Stahl’s best advice. Auraria Police patrol the PE building regularly and work closely with gym staff, but that alone cannot stop complacency.

Who would steal somebody’s shoes?

Homeless people can be seen eating in the alley between St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church and the central classroom everyday around lunchtime–they have every right to be there. The public is also allowed into the Tivoli and the library. “There was a lot of the homeless guys, like on cold days, sometimes just chilling in there reading. I mean that’s fine…It’s a public area, they’re homeless,” Ciancio says while reflecting on the winter months.

The alley where the homeless gather daily to receive food from the back of the church. [Photo by: Tommy Trask]

The alley where the homeless gather daily to receive food from the back of the church. [Photo by: Tommy Trask]

Auraria Police openly welcome the homeless to Auraria so that the church can feed them daily, but are they actually the ones stealing? The homeless are rarely to blame for theft at Auraria according to Stahl. “It’s been a variety of suspects,” he emphasizes.

Some theft on campus is much more professional than your run of the mill petty theft according to Stahl. “Somebody could represent themselves as a student, staff, or faculty member and they’re a genuine criminal coming from downtown Denver,” purposely blending in with the student population, “They play that role,” Stahl says. Stahl explains that thieves have broken into secure areas with master skeleton keys like a locksmith would use on campus in the past.

Who is ultimately to blame?

After issuing 64 citations for trespassing in 2013, it seems Auraria Police will continue the endless battle against the migration of undesirables, vagrants, thieves and junkies across campus in 2104. So far this year, 12 tickets have already been written by police to persons for trespassing on campus grounds.

The math would suggest that the numbers do indeed show a decline in trespassing citations from 2013, but they simultaneously show that the trespassing problem hasn’t gone away.

Of those 64 trespassing citations, 11 of the offenders had already been banned from campus and 38 had already been cited or warned prior to being cited. One banned individual had 16 previous trespassing violations prior to making it 17. Five of the cited trespassers were actively shooting heroin and/or methamphetamines when accosted by Auraria Police.

Stahl will not tolerate drug use on Auraria’s campus!

This doesn’t mean Auraria Police do not care about people with drug or alcohol problems. Stahl discussed how Auraria officers, working in conjunction with Denver Police and paramedic units have transported many intoxicated people to detoxification centers rather than to jail, so they can sober up and then hopefully receive help.

The Auraria campus library is a great place to expand your knowledge. It also provides a great place for theives to strike. [Photo by: Tommy Trask]

The Auraria campus library is a great place to expand your knowledge. It also provides a great place for theives to strike. [Photo by: Tommy Trask]

The presence of immoral students, habitual trespassers, career criminals, and junkies looking for some quick cash all highly contribute to theft at Auraria. Stahl recommends that all students, staff, and faculty record the make, model and serial numbers of all their electronics before even bringing them onto campus.

Electronics are the most targeted devices at Auraria and most people never record the serial numbers on their personal electronics but, “Without that, it’s almost impossible to get your stuff back,” Stahl says.

 Additional information:

The Auraria Police Department is located at: 1201 5th Street, Denver, Co. 80217-Auraria Campus Administration Building (1st floor)

Contact Auraria Police Department by cell phone at: (303) 556-5000

Contact Auraria Police online at: http://www.ahec.edu/departments/police/

In case of Emergency or to report theft in a campus parking lot: Dial 911 or use a blue emergency callbox

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Tommy Trask

About Tommy Trask

Thomas Trask is a Denver-Area Freelance Writer and Convergent Journalist.

View all posts by Tommy Trask

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