Security considers installing cameras for campus thefts


Rian Noel Pitts-Lopez, Staff Writer

Across City College’s four campuses, over 70 thefts have been reported to Security within the last year— a high enough spike that security is considering installing cameras all over campus to catch future thieves.

These thefts are documented as part of a larger report, the Clery Annual Security Report & Crime Statistics for 2015 – 2017, which was sent out campus-wide by Head of Security Erik Fricke on Oct. 1.

The Fall 2018 semester has seen at least eight reported thefts, with half of those occurring within the same week. In the last two years there has been 112 petty thefts and 32 grand thefts, with more than half of the grand thefts occurring in 2017. The disproportionate amount of grand thefts in 2017 is in part because the dollar amount of the legal definition of grand theft in California had been lowered to $950 in recent years.

Fricke said the rise in reported theft is likely because reports of theft tend to fluctuate substantially from year to year, and is not a cause for concern.

“Last year we saw an increase of theft at the new Cosmetology campus downtown, unlike previous years where it’s been relatively low,” Fricke said.

One example of recent theft is when City College student Salem Curtis-Place’s car keys were stolen from her when someone unhooked them from her backpack in an adjacent seat during her communication class last year. No one stole her car and her keys were also anonymously turned in three days later to lost and found.

An increase in cameras has been proposed to solve these issues, though Fricke acknowledged cameras aren’t always effective in preventing theft. He gave an example of when someone broke into the bike sheds, and said that even though cameras were in place the suspect was wearing a hood and his face could not be identified.

The cost of installing the cameras is also a concern to Fricke.

“Cameras do not necessarily cost a lot, but the installation of them does. There’s no funding for dozens of cameras to be installed right now,” Fricke said, adding that there are already a few cameras around campus, but they are not always monitored.

Many City College students are opposed to a possible increase in cameras like second-year City College student Edgar Rodriguez who said he would want there to be cameras in case his backpack or laptop was stolen, but voiced that funding would be better spent helping people who can not afford college.

Curtis-Place said it would be very expensive and “hard to see many benefits” unless someone was watching the surveillance all the time.

“In order for that to work well there would have to be a camera in every classroom and all around campus,” she said.

In addition to cameras, Security also has student workers and full-time security officers who patrol the campus during the day and stationed security officers who patrol the campus at night.

According to Fricke, there are things students themselves can do to minimize the chance of their belongings being stolen.

“Most of petty theft crimes happen because people think that the other people around them are watching their things if you leave to the restroom, but no one is really paying attention to your items,” Fricke said.

As a short-term solution for this ongoing problem, Fricke encourages people to use their common sense and take personal responsibility by keeping track of their belongings at all times,  saying it is one of the best ways to avoid becoming a victim of theft.