Vehicle thefts lead to parking garage improvements
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department has seen an increase in thefts from cars in the past month. Thefts of unlocked vehicles is also up.
Part of the increase is the return of students to Columbia, leaving more cars on the street as students move. Sergeant Bob Dochler says drivers should take all personal belongings out of parked cars, always lock the doors and park in well lit areas to avoid theft.
"Criminals go after easy targets so our goal is to reduce those targets," Dochler said.
Columbia Public Works is working to make some common parking areas more theft-proof. In response to crime and a push to save energy Columbia parking garages were retrofitted with new LED lights. These lights are meant to use less energy while making the garages brighter and not disturbing those outside of the garage with unnecessary light.
"We always evaluate the safety of our parking structures to make sure people feel safe and that their vehicles are safe when they're left there," said Public Works Public Information Specialist Steven Sapp.
They do this, Sapp says, by monitoring the lighting, cameras and video quality, upgrading equipment when needed.
Better quality security cameras were also added. The video quality on the new cameras can allow license plates to be identified, something not possible with the old system. These are intended to identify and deter crimes in the garages, including loitering and thefts.
"We want to make sure thefts don't occur and that people are safe in parking garages," Sapp said.