VICTORIA STREET GARAGE TARGETED

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By Matthew Chung

News Editor

Stephanie Wells had just taken the last batch of cupcakes and brownies out of her trunk last Thursday morning when she heard the clink of shattered glass.

The fourth-year journalism student then realized the driver’s side window of her Subaru Outback, parked in Ryerson’s garage on Victoria Street, had been smashed. Her bag containing her wallet, which she had left on the front seat of her car 10 minutes earlier, had been taken.

And so had a cash box with about $75 from a Journalists’ for Human Rights bake sale. Seven other car thefts in the garage have been reported to security since Dec. 30 — in spite of stepped-up patrols in the area. But Wells said she was shocked by the incident. “I was thinking ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe this…'” she said. “It just figures that I would leave it and that was the time the person would come.” A thief or thieves have been targeting cars with items left in plain view.

In all but one of the thefts, a car window was smashed and visible items were grabbed. More than $3,000 worth of goods — including a Sirius Satellite Radio and a leather jacket — was stolen on Saturday. Security has increased patrols in the parking garage and launched and investigation but have apprehended no one, supervisor of operations and crime prevention Chris Beninger said. “We don’t have anything at this point that is jumping out at us. But security is doing everything possible,” he said.

“The key thing that we can spread out there and push is just continuously tell people to prevent the window shopping,” he said. “Don’t let anything of value be seen by people coming by.” Wells says she’s frustrated that the thief or thieves took about $40 from her wallet and other items, but especially upset that they made off with the proceeds from a bake sale. The money was to help build a computer education centre for former child soldiers in Sierra Leone.

Wells was making a couple of trips to deliver the baked goods to Jorgenson Hall for the fundraiser before she left for work. She had locked her bag inside the car because she couldn’t carry it. “It’s kind of pathetic that we have to assume that if you leave something locked up in your own vehicle that you have to expect that,” she said. Her credit, debit and some other cards were turned into police later, but her driver’s license, birth certificate, SIN card and health card are still missing. A survey conducted by the university in 2005 found that nine of 10 students felt that security on campus was adequate.

But first-year Hospitality and Tourism Management student Cyrus Cooper, who parks in the garage, says he’ll be anxious about parking in the garage from now on. “It never would have been in the back of my mind at all, I thought I was… safe,” he said.

“Now it’s something that’ll be in the back of my mind and that I’d be worried about.”

Wells says safety in the parking lot is a concern for all students, particularly for young women.

“You shouldn’t have to be worried and nervous about making it from your car to your class.”

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