The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Security blames gang activity for rising crime

Though Santa Barbara is known for its family-friendly community and safe neighborhoods, City College has seen an increase in crimes since 2005, ranging from car break-ins to students illegally parking with handicap placards.

“It’s hard to say why there’s been an increase in crime from last year,” Erik Fricke, director of Campus Security said. “This year we’ve written more reports than any other year.”

Topping security’s list of most concerning criminal activity at City College are car break-ins, the illegal use of handicap placards, Pershing Park attempted assaults and lewd conduct, Fricke said.

Last Sunday alone two cars were broken into and two iPods were stolen, according to the campus crime log.

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“We feel that the increase in auto break-ins is gang related,” Fricke said. “There has been an increase in general gang activity in Santa Barbara and it’s only natural that City College would experience a rise in crime as well.”

While Fricke reported that most of the break-ins occur in the La Playa West and East lots, nearly all the break-ins have one thing in common – the open display of iPods or some other valuable item.

“Almost everyone who has been the victim of an auto break-in had an iPod in plain view,” Fricke said.

One student parked in the La Playa West lot left two iPods and cash in the center console as well as a Prada purse on the back seat. Campus officer Nick Sidoti attempted to contact the owner to prevent the possibility of theft. Though the owner could not be reached, the items were not stolen.

Fricke said he isn’t sure why students leave prized possessions open for prospective thieves.

“They probably don’t think any thing will ever happen to them. A lot of it is just being lazy,” he said.

Some students agree.

Student security officer at City College, Rayce Cokeley, said it’s a dumb idea to leave anything of value in sight.

Desmond Johnson, a film major shares Cokeley’s sentiment. “Leaving items on the dashboard is almost guaranteeing what I call the old smash and grab routine.”

In addition to the break-ins, illegal parking with handicap placards is also on the rise.

The Security Department cited 15 handicap violations since the 2005 spring semester, including three in October alone.

“Students learn quickly how to get around parking obstacles,” Fricke said. “Being frustrated, they try to take advantage of all they can.”

To combat the rising trend of faulty handicap placard and permit use, campus security officers not only scan license plates to check if they match the placard number, but they also keeps track of the staff permits issued as well.

Anyone who is considering this as an alternative to parking issues is taking a serious chance, Fricke said.

If caught, students can be fined up to $3,500 in addition to the $300 for parking in a handicapped zone without a permit. They can be suspended from school for breaking the contract of student conduct as well as possibly facing criminal charges for fraud.

“It’s just wrong” for anyone to take advantage of something that is meant to help people with disabilities, said Lauren Konder, a Laguna Niguel resident who was visiting City College.

To add to these incidents, student safety in Pershing Park is a pressing issue on security’s agenda.

Thursday, a man reported that his roommate was attacked in Pershing Park, Fricke said.

The man was reportedly approached and asked to hand over his money. The student was then hit in the stomach and on the back, according to security reports.

“I recommend that students who are walking through the park at night not travel alone,” Fricke said. “I just want people to be aware of crimes so they can protect themselves.”

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