At least one Isla Vista residence was robbed every day last year, on average, according to recent crime statistics.
In what has become a persistent and growing problem, burglaries represent a major source of crime in the community, and most occur simply because residents fail to lock their doors and windows. According to the Isla Vista Foot Patrol, 378 burglaries were committed over the course of the 08-09 school year, representing a marked increase from the year before.
Lt. Brian Olmstead of the Foot Patrol said the majority of thieves merely walk into houses through the front door, and take whatever they can.
“Unfortunately, in the majority of our burglaries the point of entry has been through some unlocked window or unlocked door,” Olmstead said. “We do have some forced entry, but by far in the vast majority of burglaries and theft the point of entry is an unlocked door or window.”
Ira Torf, a second-year business economics major, was robbed in late August while he and his housemates were asleep.
“I got back … at like 2 a.m. I didn’t lock the door, then I went to sleep,” Torf said. “They came in while [my roommate] was sleeping on the couch and took a bunch of stuff.” He added that the thieves made off with over $1,000 worth of possessions.
Olmstead said such experiences are incredibly common, and added that often times victims wake to find buglars still in their homes.
“A lot of times people wake up and have [burglars] in their residence,” Olmstead, stressing that persons in this situation should always call 9-1-1, said. “If someone’s going into a residence at night to steal something while people are there, whether they’re sleeping or passed out it could turn into a real dangerous situation.”
Burglary in Isla Vista is a known problem, but recent statistics show it is getting worse. From Aug. 2007 to June 2008, there were 256 burglaries, 178 petty thefts and 57 grand thefts in I.V. Residents reported 378 burglaries, 200 petty thefts and 63 grand thefts over that same time period last year.
“At least looking at our area, the population hasn’t shifted that much or increased that greatly, [and] we’re seeing over the last year and half a far higher property crimes rate than we have the year before,” Olmstead said.
While many thieves merely walk into unlocked houses, some burglaries in Isla Vista do involve breaking and entering.
Daniel Estrada, a second-year chemical engineering major, had a thief break into his apartment through a locked window last August, taking two laptops, a bike and a Sony Playstation. Estrada and his roommates lost over $5,000 in items, as well as important schoolwork.
“That was the week before my finals,” Estrada, who was robbed in middle of the day while briefly away from home, said. “I had a ten page paper [stolen].”
Since being robbed, Estrada and his roommates have taken steps to prevent future theft. Their landlord took short wooden dowels and placed them between the window and the wall, preventing the window from opening more than just a crack.
It is simple steps like that, Olmstead said, that can act as the biggest preventative step Isla Vista residents can take.
“I think if they lock their doors and lock their windows, that’s a huge help right there.”