On-campus car GPS unit thefts rise

Being in the heart of Atlanta, the Tech campus has always had to keep a watchful eye on the issue of crime and in particular robberies and other automobile-related incidents.

The newest rising trend starting this year has an increased frequency in stolen GPS units. GPS, or global position system, which provides the user with real-time maps and navigation capabilities, has become another auto gadget that is increasing in popularity.

Since January 1, 2008, there have been twenty-six reports of stolen GPS units from cars parked on Tech’s campus. However, these thefts are not just limited to Tech. “It’s a city-wide issue,” said Captain Regina Rogers of the Georgia Tech Police Department, “GPS units are a hot item right now…take Tech’s stats and multiply them by ten for Atlanta.”

There is no particular trend to the occurrence or location of these thefts on campus, although the parking decks have been hit less than the exterior and open parking lots.

The crimes appear to be random crimes of opportunity, similar to those for laptops or iPods, according the Georgia Tech Police. There were thirteen GPS thefts on south campus, nine on west, and four on north campus. According to the police statistics, there have approximately eight GPS-related thefts each month.

Some progress has been made, however. There have been six arrests made since January for automobile break-ins on campus, however, GPS units, like many other small gadgets have been difficult to track and recover. There was no data available on whether or not any GPS units stolen from campus have been recovered.

Georgia Tech Police have put up signs around campus and in parking decks to students, faculty, and other visitors to remove all valuable items from their automobile.

However, even if one removes their GPS unit from his or her car, unlike other valuable items, GPS units can leave telltale signs that signal to a passerby that there has been or their might be a GPS unit in the car.

In particular, Captain Rogers described how many GPS units are mounted on the windshield of cars and once removed can leave a smudged mark or ring from the suction cup. Even if there is not a GPS unit in the car, these rings can be a clue to potential burglars to investigate the car more, and possibly break in to search.

Captain Rogers reiterated that these are “crimes of opportunity,” and emphasized that everyone should remove from his or her car valuables and other clues to possible thieves in order to avoid such incidents.