Due to the large number of vehicles in parking lots on campuses, they are susceptible to car thefts. Though Mount Holyoke College has typically had very few vehicles stolen each year, unfortunately, thefts do still occur.
Theft Prevention Tips
Park in a Well-Lit Area
Park under a light, near an emergency phone, or in a well-travelled area such as the outside rows of a parking lot. Report any burned out lights to Facilities Management (or the Campus Police after hours) so they may be repaired for your safety and the security of your vehicle.
Lock Your Doors
It is much easier to try the doors of vehicles parked in an area than it is to break the windows or jimmy locks, which would bring attention to a would-be thief. This is a simple but effective step in protecting your car. Be sure to take your keys with you.
Do Not Leave Valuables in View
Take any valuables with you, including removable stereo equipment, wallets, CDs, etc. Thieves not looking to steal an entire car could easily make off with the contents of your vehicle in only a few short minutes. If you must leave valuables in your car, lock them in the trunk compartment.
While on Vacation or When You Are Not Using Your Car Often
When you are away on break and have to leave your car on campus, park in the Gorse Parking Lot. This is where most vehicles left for the break will park, and the Campus Police are better able to watch several cars in one area than cars spread throughout the campus during the breaks. Also, you increase the likelihood of others being in the lot deterring thieves as others will be using their vehicles. Put someone in charge of your vehicle to check on it, and to move it from time to time so a thief does not know you are away (you may want to list their phone number on your registration form in the Parking Office in case something happens to your vehicle - we can attempt to notify this person in your absence). If you are on campus but do not use your vehicle frequently, be sure to move it and clear it of snow in the winter so a thief does not think the car will be left unattended for him to take.
NOTE: while students may leave vehicles on campus during academic recesses (fall break, December recess, spring break), the college does not have spaces available for longer term storage. This means vehicles may not be left on campus for the summer or while a student is not attending courses at Mount Holyoke (during leave, etc.).
Report Suspicious Activity to the Campus Police
Call if you see someone trying handles on the cars in a lot or "hanging around" the cars. Call if you hear glass breaking or other sounds which may indicate someone is trying to get into cars. Provide the Campus Police with a full description of the person, including clothing and a direction of travel if s/he leaves the area.
Alarms can alert others to a problem with a car. However, vehicle owners should be aware that often times alarms can be ignored due to the large number of false alarms. Officers on campus respond to every report of an alarm sounding, but calls do not always come in immediately; usually we are called only once an alarm becomes an annoyance to those in the area and the alarm has been sounding for some time. Use an alarm in conjunction with other theft prevention devices. Visible decals warning a potential thief of an alarm may cause him to look for another target to avoid drawing attention to himself.
Steering Wheel Locks
These are a visible deterrent to a potential thief. They prevent the wheel from being turned more than a few degrees. They are not infallible, but when used in conjunction with other crime prevention methods, may make your vehicle a less desirable target.
Many cars are stolen for parts. Professional thieves may shy away from a vehicle that has had the vehicle identification number (VIN) etched into the doors, windows, windshield, etc.
Typically such systems include siren alarms, starter disablers, motion senors, remote control activation, panic buttons, and shock detectors on doors, windows, or trunk lids. A beeper can alert the owner when someone trips the system. These again can deter a thief who is looking for an easy target. Prices range depending on the options an owner selects.