The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Vehicle-related theft on the rise at GV

GVL Archives

During the fall 2023 semester there were several instances of theft from vehicles parked on the Grand Valley State University Allendale Campus. Although these instances are sporadic and not isolated to this specific semester, the Grand Valley Police Department recognized an increase in cases. 

Alongside the theft from vehicles, there have been three attempts to steal vehicles and one vehicle was stolen from a campus area. GVPD said the targeted vehicles were left unlocked with the keys left inside them.

According to GVPD Captain Leah Heaton, these larcenies are committed by groups that have somewhat organized and planned behavior. 

“What we’re seeing is groups of individuals come out either in a stolen vehicle or vehicles without a plate, so, hard to identify who’s doing it,” Heaton said. “They come out in the early morning hours between three, four, five, six, in the morning, and really they just go through our parking lots, they pull on door handles to see if vehicles are unlocked, and if so if there’s anything good to grab – money, wallets, gift cards, phones, items of value – they will grab those. If the vehicle has keys in it, that’s kind of when we’ve found that they will take the vehicle itself.”

Heaton said the thefts on GVSU’s Allendale Campus only happened to unlocked cars and no physical break-ins occurred. On GVSU’s Pew Campus, there was one instance where a window was broken to try to get into the vehicle.

Heaton said anyone who parks on campus should take extra safety precautions to protect their vehicles including locking cars and not leaving valuables in sight. She also recommends occasionally checking parked vehicles on campus, especially if it has not been in use.

The thefts happen more frequently during breaks from school when people leave their cars on campus for extended periods of time, which results in the thefts not being reported right away.

“A lot of times we don’t get these reports until days after. A lot of the students here park vehicles and they don’t use them every day so we get the post-dated report,” Heaton said. “It’s a little harder for us to track down people if it’s been a couple weeks.”

While these incidents are not isolated to any specific lot on GVSU’s Allendale Campus, Heaton said thefts happen more frequently in the residential lots where people are parked overnight or for longer periods of time.

Heaton said the larcenies typically happen in groups. If students hear that there have been car-related incidents in the same lot they are parked in, she recommends to check their vehicles for missing items.

“If one vehicle got hit in the lot, most likely a couple others may have as well,” Heaton said. “They don’t come out and just try one car and then leave. If they start pulling open doors they’re gonna keep going.”

Leah Stawara, a GVSU junior, said at first she was not aware of this issue at GVSU, but she plans on being extra careful. 

“It doesn’t seem unheard of,” Stawara said. “I do sometimes think of my car possibly being broken into, so I always make sure to lock it and keep any personal belongings out of sight if I don’t bring them with me.” 

Heaton recommends parking as close to a building as possible where more people are likely passing by. She urges that if anyone sees someone acting suspiciously, such as looking into various cars throughout a lot or pulling door handles, to give GVPD a call immediately. 

“It’s a lot easier for us to catch people in the act rather than six hours later,” Heaton said.

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