A security guard noticed a car window in the Lissner lot was shattered, then found three more broken into and one more in the Townhouse lot.
By Mady Fortier and Sarah Nelson
Five cars were reported broken into on campus between the night of Oct. 17 and the following morning. Four out of five break-ins occurred in the Lissner parking lot, and one in the Arden Townhouse lot.
The Office of Security and Safety said an officer was patrolling the Lissner parking lot at 1:08 a.m. Oct. 18. The break-ins occurred sometime after.
Later that morning, security employee Marco Ochoa was patrolling the North Sector of campus, which includes Lissner, Seminary and North Village, when he noticed around 9:20 a.m. that a window of a car within the Lissner lot was shattered. Ochoa said he was already on the lookout for car break-ins because the break-in in the Arden Townhouse lot had been reported earlier in his shift.
After examining the vehicle and the rest of the lot, he found three more cars with similar damages. He then proceeded to contact the Ramsey County Police Department, as well as the owners of the vehicles.
The Ramsey County Police arrived on the scene, collected license plate numbers and made cases for the students to bring to their insurance companies. Ochoa turned the case over to the Ramsey police officers.
According to both Ochoa and Associate Director of Security Operations Nathan Katterson, the total amount in damages of the cars is uncertain due to the fact some owners did not list certain personal items as stolen.
Marissa Johnson, a junior, received a call from the Office of Security and Safety at 7:50 a.m. Oct. 18 that her car had been broken into. She reported around $300 worth of valuables taken from her car, hers being the only vehicle in the Townhouse lot to be broken into. Some of her stolen belongings included a Columbia jacket, a leather jacket and a vest.
Two days prior to the break-ins, a Bethel E-Announcement communicated that the Office of Security and Safety would have “limited services available” on Oct. 18 and Oct. 19, though they would continue to be open for emergencies, inquiries and lost and found.
According to Katterson, the “limited services” message solely meant that the emergency communications coordinator would be taking two days off, with the physical Security office therefore being closed. Patrolling, he said, was not impacted during that time span. He acknowledged there may be a question of whether or not the Bethel E-Announcement might have been misconstrued, and thus had an impact on the break-ins.
Both Ochoa and Katterson said they rarely receive cases such as this, especially one with a high volume of individuals involved. Since the incident, Ochoa said patrolling officers are taking extra care in watching the affected parking lots since they do not have cameras. Katterson said he will use this report as a case for installing camera footage in the lots.
There is no lead on the identity of the suspect or suspects.