16 vehicles burglarized on campus

By Gus Bode

car stereo thefts occurs in overnight parking lots

Factoid:Anyone who needs to report a motor vehicle burglary on campus can call the SIUC Police Department at 453-2381

Last Monday night, SIUC senior Scott Danesi parked his Ford Explorer in Lot 59 near the School of Law like he always does. But when he woke Tuesday morning around 10:30, he found a scene far from the ordinary.


Not only was one of the Explorer’s back windows shattered, but an estimated $4,000 of stereo equipment was missing from the vehicle. Danesi said whoever broke into his car opened its hood to disable the vehicle’s alarm system.

Danesi, who is in his fourth year living on campus, said this was the first time his vehicle had been burglarized.

“I was shocked at first,” Danesi said. “I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t think anything like that would ever happen to me.”

Danesi, along with at least 15 other SIUC students who park their vehicles in overnight campus lots, was the victim of an overnight on-campus motor vehicle burglary last week.

The SIUC Police Department reported that 10 vehicles in Lot 59 fell prey to stereo equipment thefts Monday, Sept. 1.

Another nearby overnight parking lot, Lot 23, was also the scene of six motor vehicle thefts involving stereo equipment between 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29 and 8:45 a.m. Tuesday morning. The lot is located between the Communications Building and Oakland Avenue.

SIUC Police Sgt. Donna Kunce said the department is trying some new methods of checking the overnight lots but could not say which strategies officers are using to monitor the lots more closely.


“We don’t discuss our strategies,” Kunce said. “The bad guys read the paper, too, and we don’t want them to know what we’re doing.”

SIUC Police Sgt. Howard Tucker previously said the department has used surveillance, foot patrol and bicycle patrol to watch the lots.

Danesi said he would like to see SIUC Police put cameras in the overnight lots or have an officer watch specific lots through the night hours.

“They’re out that time of night anyway,” Danesi said. “I see them writing tickets on people’s cars. They should be patrolling better. That would make me feel better. I feel really unsafe about parking there.”

SIUC junior Kerrill Balek, whose Dodge Neon also had stereo equipment stolen from it Monday night in Lot 59, said the recent rash of auto burglaries is ridiculous, and she would also like to see campus police patrol the lots more closely.

Balek said someone broke into her locked vehicle and took her car stereo, its face plate from the glove compartment and a carton of cigarettes. She said she believes she lost more than $300 of merchandise after she parked her vehicle in the overnight lot.

Tucker said the majority of on-campus motor vehicle burglaries happen in the large, overnight parking lots.

“When you get into the burglaries, they’re usually overnight,” Tucker said. “It has a tendency to be not the lots where people are transitional, but the ones where vehicles are stored for a length of time.”

Kunce said she encourages on-campus residents to take anything of value, including compact discs, out of their vehicles before they park them in the overnight lots. She also said anyone who has a detachable face plate on a car CD player should take it off and out of the vehicle.

Danesi said he made the mistake of not removing the face plate from his CD player and paid the price.

SIUC sophomore Abraham Rush said he always makes sure nothing of value is left behind in his car when he parks it an overnight lot. He also said he tries to park his vehicle in a well-lit area of a parking lot when he can.

“This is the only place I can park, so all I can do is set my alarm and keep my car somewhere visible,” Rush said.

Other on-campus residents said they would consider parking their vehicles elsewhere if the auto burglaries continue.

SIUC senior Tom Karels said if he felt his car was unsafe from being parked in an overnight lot, he would probably try to keep it at a friend’s house. For the time being, he said he would continue to leave his car stereo at risk and park his car in the designated overnight lots.

“There’s nothing you can really do about it,” Karels said. “All you can do is lock your car and hope for the best.”

Kunce said the campus usually goes through waves of car stereo thefts when there are a higher number of auto-related burglaries, but that the department often finds who is responsible.

“Every once in a while, we get hit with auto burglaries until we catch the perpetrators,” Kunce said. “Eventually, the person usually gets caught and it stops. That’s what we’re hoping for this time.”

Reporter Burke Wasson can be reached at [email protected]