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Car vandalism not serious issue on campus

A number of incidents of car vandalism have been brought to the attention of the Mills Public Safety department in the last two years. In the years of 2005 and 2006, the window of a car in the CPM parking lot was broken, the lock of a vehicle parked behind the Mary Atkins commuter lounge was damaged, and a car was keyed. The perpetrators of these crimes were not identified. But how grave of an issue is vandalism on campus?

“Sadly, it does happen,” said Kennedy Golden, associate dean of students. Golden stated that in her 37 years at Mills, she had seen a number of incidents in which two people “got into a dispute” and a vehicle was keyed, but that minor burglaries, such as the taking of items like laptops and cell phones left visible, have proved more common.

Car vandalism is far from being the chief concern of Michael Lopez, director of public safety. “We haven’t had a vandalism case here in a long time,” he said. “Certainly not this year.” Mills students who drive also report that their vehicles have remained safe here at Mills.

“I haven’t had my car vandalized, thank God,” said Mollie Bower, junior. “Although I know it has happened here.”

Lopez said he considered the crime of vandalism to be vindictive, but “more random than revenge,” at least in a school setting. He explained that when vandalism is reported, Public Safety notes the time of day and type of damage, then sends the report to the Oakland Police Department in hopes of finding a suspect.

In the world outside Mills, said Lopez, vandalism goes in cycles with “no set rhyme or reason.” Methods include the jamming of locks with glue and the use of popsicle sticks for a similar purpose. But even having one’s car keyed, especially in a college setting, has ceased to be a minor concern due to the price of paint and bodywork. Lopez said that people do not usually have cosmetic vehicular damage fixed, “especially students, due to lack of insurance [coverage].”

Attempts to prevent damage to one’s vehicle primarily involve the use of common sense. Lopez advises that if a pattern of vandalism should become evident, it is wise to be aware of it so as to take extra care at whatever time of day the crimes typically occur. “But we don’t have a pattern at Mills,” he said,
so it’s hard to say.”

Otherwise, the best means of prevention include parking in well-lit areas and being aware of one’s surroundings. Bearing all that in mind, it seems that those of us with cars at Mills should count ourselves lucky and more or less safe.