Since last semester, there have been a string of catalytic converter thefts on and around Albion’s campus. There have been five thefts reported to campus safety, one being fairly recent.
Albion College communications sent and email to students, staff and faculty on Feb. 8, saying, “The catalytic converter thefts on campus are part of a widespread issue taking place throughout the county, state and country. Unfortunately, our campus is not immune to these acts.”
Megan Shay, a junior from Ortonville, had hers stolen around 2 a.m. on Feb. 11 from the Dow parking lot. Albion College campus safety inspected her car to ensure it was stolen and told her to file an insurance claim.
Shay said that there are no working cameras where she parks or in many areas on campus, leaving her with few other options.
“It’s a little bit annoying because now I have to pay money out of my pocket for something that could have been prevented with cameras,” Shay said.
Kelvin Crone-Willis, a Ferguson, Missouri, sophomore, had his catalytic converter stolen from his vehicle last spring semester. He said the school tried to help, but there wasn’t much they could do.
Crone-Willis, unlike Shay, was parked at Wesley Hall in a parking lot with cameras. Unfortunately, he said that the poor camera quality left the authorities unable to identify the culprit.
“The process was relatively simple but sort of annoying,” Crone-Willis said. “It was a little bit frustrating that there wasn’t something that could be done.”
While these thefts are happening, the Interim Director of Campus Safety David Leib said his office is making proactive measures to help prevent as much theft as possible, adding that students who witness suspicious activity can also help with prevention.
“Our primary proactive measure is lot checks and also relying somewhat on students to help us identify anything suspicious so we can investigate it,” Leib said
Leib said while they have cameras in many of the parking lots on campus, but they currently do not have the resources to get more or better ones.
“I can say with 100 percent certainty that an increase in cameras would not have prevented this,” Leib said. “The person who did this clearly knew that we had cameras because they stopped in front of one and looked at it.”
It only takes about 90 seconds to steal a catalytic converter, Leib said, so it’s hard to catch someone with such a small window of time.
“In certain situations, this person is able to park right next to a car, open up his door and immediately roll under the next one,” Leib said. “Unfortunately, that is the reality and they have become very crafty in doing that.”
Though campus safety is doing what they can with the thefts, Leib said that their number one priority is the human safety of those on this campus. He said that he doesn’t believe this person to be a threat to anyone physically, just to personal property.
Leib said that campus safety is working with the Albion Police Department to look for connections between the thefts on campus and those in the community.