Vehicle theft occurring every 25-30 days at OCC Swap Meet

Signs outside every parking lot, including the Adams Avenue lot, at Orange Coast College warn campus-goers about recent vehicle thefts on the weekends at the Swap Meet. 

Thieves are stealing SUVs and trucks on campus at Orange Coast College at increasing rates. Though there is no specific knowledge of who is stealing these vehicles, this increase has developed into a pattern of vehicle theft every 25 to 30 days on the weekends at the Swap Meet

“It’s always in the Swap Meet area,” Campus Public Safety Officer Tony Bryant said. “My guess is that they see these vehicles sitting there, nobody’s around, it doesn't take long to hot wire it, turn the ignition and they’re off.”

Campus Public Safety believes suspects are targeting cars that are not only easy to break into, but give them an opportunity to store other stolen items. 

“All the models are pick-ups and SUVs – one strange one was a Ford U-Haul van,” Bryant said. “Once in a while they need something to haul all their stolen gear, so a U-Haul van is the perfect thing to have.”

Public safety has been aware of the nationwide trend in catalytic converter thefts, but trends have developed to thieves stealing entire vehicles recently. 

“They’re stripping them down, which is making me think that it’s really a chop shop somewhere,” Bryant said. 

Some stolen vehicles have been recovered in Orange County and Compton.

In response to the thefts, Campus Public Safety placed electronic signs on the edges of the parking lots to warn people coming on campus who drive vehicles, predominantly Chevrolet and GMC pickup trucks and SUVs, that have been targeted recently. 

“We’ve had a spike here,” Director of Campus Public Safety Jim Rudy said. “We need to look into what measures we can put in place to prevent and also alert our Swap Meet customers that these are occurring and that’s why we put the electronic signs out. They always have to be displayed on the weekends.”

Rudy also said it is difficult for Campus Public Safety to identify who is stealing from the Swap Meet because there are so many people vending and shopping that anyone can blend in. However, since they have identified a pattern, patrols watch out for those vehicles especially during the Swap Meet. 

“They do pay special attention to those Chevy pickups or SUVs, they focus on those by keeping an eye on them but there's only so many staff,” Rudy said.

To keep belongings safe in their cars, Rudy recommends people going to the Swap Meet make sure to roll up their windows when their car is parked, move all personal items to the trunk while away from their car and do not leave any valuables in the car unattended. For those with bikes on campus, Rudy urges students to use a U-lock rather than a cable lock, because cable locks are easy to cut through. 

“I know it’s inconvenient, but just pick up your property and take it with you,” Rudy said. “Don’t leave anything.” 


Editor in Chief Kate Bent contributed to this report. 

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