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Director of public safety provides safety tips for Lakers amid recent vehicle thefts

(October 10, 2023) - On Wednesday, October 4, Clayton State students, faculty, and staff all received an emergency alert regarding a pair of motor vehicle thefts.

Clayton State University patrol cars

The email stated that on Saturday, Sept. 30, and Tuesday, Oct. 3, “one unlocked car with the key inside was taken without permission from the Edgewater Hall parking lot.”

It also stated that two golf carts had been “taken without permission.”  

At the time of the email, the investigation of the thefts was still ongoing.  

Clayton State’s director of public safety, Chief John Keener, said in an ensuing interview that a total of two vehicles and two golf carts were stolen, but that both vehicles and one of the golf carts had since been recovered.

He also said that three suspects in the case had also been identified.

Despite the thefts and criminal behavior, Chief Keener wanted to reassure all on campus that his staff is composed of “highly trained professionals” and that while Clayton State’s campus is safe, “it is not immune from these types of criminal activities.”  

To help aid the Clayton State community, Keener provided a plethora of safety tips and advice to ensure that all on campus are better educated on how to keep their vehicle safe from potential theft and criminal activity.

“First, take your vehicle key with you every time, all the time, even if you’ll be out of the vehicle for just a moment,” Keener said. “That moment is more than enough time for a thief to take that advantage and ride off with your vehicle.”

Keener further advised that Lakers “always leave vehicle windows up” and vehicles locked at all times, saying that such thefts are often referred to in law enforcement as “thefts of opportunity.”

“[That’s] somebody looking for an easy score,” Keener said. “They will go through a parking lot and hit all the driver’s side doors looking for an unlocked vehicle to get into.”

Keener continued on by advising Clayton State to park in well-lit, populated areas whenever possible, never leave visible valuables in their cars, and ensure that vehicles on campus have working alarm systems.

While he said some may shrug off the sound, “it does still scare off the casual thief.”

“There are also items you can [get] to physically immobilize your vehicle,” Keener said. “One of those items is a steering wheel lock. It’s just a long pole you lock onto the steering wheel – sometimes, to your brake. That will actually prevent someone from being able to steer the vehicle or apply the brake to get it out of gear to move the vehicle, even if they can hot-wire it.”

Keener and his team are still investigating the cases of theft and said that such criminal behavior is something he and his team take “seriously.”

While he said that he and his staff are always ready to respond to such acts, he added that his team still needs the continuous aid from all Lakers, both on and off campus.

“I would like to ask the community to remember that we need their help to keep campus safe,” Keener said. “Every member of our campus community is a member of our public safety team. If you see suspicious activity or are the victim of a crime – please contact us immediately so we can step in to assist you.”

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