The beginning of the spring semester also brought a string of incidents to the University of Memphis campus, many of them involving cars. According to the crime log from the UofM Police Services, there have been four motor vehicle thefts, a theft from a motor vehicle and three car vandalisms.
Bailee Dykstra, a UofM sophomore, reported one of these incidents after her car was stolen from lot 15 – located near the campus recreation center – on January 8.
Dykstra previously had her car stolen before Christmas Break last year while she was not in Memphis. The car was found several weeks later. However, after getting it back from repairments, her car was stolen again the very next day. Her car, an Infiniti, was found by campus police nearly an hour after it was reported missing, dropped off less than a quarter mile away from where it was stolen.
“The police said at first they were really unsure of why they took it and then dropped it right back off,” Dykstra said.
Dykstra later discovered that her friend knew someone whose Infiniti had also been stolen the same night. Once informing police of this, Dykstra said the police concluded that her car was taken by the suspects because they knew of its location and used it to take his car.
Dykstra said that her car was stolen both times by the same men.
“These men know what they’re doing and have clearly done it multiple times,” she said. “They’ve taken my car and I know of a few other people they’ve done it to also.”
Although the suspects ultimately ditched the car, they took her catalytic converter and reset her car keys in the process.
They were able to reprogram the keys with a key programming tool from an auto body shop or dealership. Through reprogramming a car key, the original key will no longer be programmed to the car.
“Everytime I get my car back, I have to pay someone to reprogram it,” Dykstra said.
The suspects also took items from her vehicle including her car paperwork, seat covers and air fresheners. The only thing that was left unaltered was her personal information.
“I had everything in the car because I just got a new job,” said Dykstra. “They took everything but never tried to touch or do anything with my debit or credit card.”
Dykstra said she has since felt uncomfortable walking into her apartment at night after experiencing these incidents.
“After the police told me they had stolen my car a second time, only 40 minutes after I parked my car, it began to worry me more,” she said. “They’re clearly checking the lot, if not watching what I do.”
Dykstra said that she felt as though the UofM Police Services or the Memphis Police Department should have enough information to find the two male suspects who stole her car.
“The thing that doesn’t make sense to me is that they’ve watched the footage both times my car was stolen and know it’s the same two males,” she said. “They know these men. They know who they are, what they drive, yet have never been able to catch them.”
The Daily Helmsman contacted the UofM Chief of Police Derek Myers about the car incidents that had occurred in the month of January. In response to them, Myers made the following statement:
“Unfortunately, we are not immune to the larger issues of the region with vehicle break-ins, catalytic converter thefts and stolen vehicles. We slow this down by identifying and locating suspects and following through with criminal prosecution. We work very closely with Memphis Police Department detectives and their task force units sharing intelligence. We use camera technology that allows us to get alerts when suspect vehicles are in the area. We have interrupted several attempted crimes this way. If the suspect vehicle was previously unknown, we have been very successful in identifying it through our cameras. In one of the latest vehicle thefts, the suspect vehicle was easily identified which has already led to one arrest.”
In order to remain safe on campus, Myers advises students and staff to be aware of their surroundings, not to leave valuables in a vehicle, lock their vehicle and report suspicious activity to UofM Police Services at (901)678-4357 or through the LiveSafe app.
Shown above is the UofM Police Services enforcement area. The boundaries end at Highland, Poplar, Goodlett, Park and Getwell, but also extend to the Park Ave. campus – often called South Campus.