As soon as someone moves to Bellingham they can expect to hear stories of burglary. They may listen in on students conspiring about the infamous “Mac thief” and if unlucky could even fall victim to their own case of theft. Why is it that Bellingham has the reputation as a host for thieves? And what can individuals do to protect themselves from such violation?
Mark Young, Bellingham Police Department’s Public Information Officer, argues that Bellingham does not necessarily have more theft than any other major city.
“Thieves from all over are always looking for opportunities to steal. If you leave something they want out in the open they will take it,” Young said.
There are certain trends that can be derived from police reports and statistics. In the summer there are more residential burglaries, perhaps because the weather is nicer and more people are outside. As school starts and more students are moving into their homes for the year, theft in and around Western’s campus tends to spike.
“Burglars are certainly aware of these changes and will act upon them. If there are more people around to steal from, there will be more theft,” explained Young.
As far as what is stolen and how they are stolen, there is a broad range of items that have gone missing and scenarios that go along with.
Paige Stevenson, freshman, left her Nalgene water bottle in Fraser Hall two weeks ago, and has yet to recover it.
“I brought it to class, set it down by my feet, forgot about it and left class later without it,” said Stevenson. “Having realized that I had forgotten about it, I planned on returning the next day.”
When Stevenson returned, her Nalgene was nowhere to be found. She went back to all of the classrooms she had been in that day, asked each of her teachers about it, and upon no avail gave up any hope of finding it.
“It irritates me that someone would steal something of so little value,” Stevenson shared. “The Nalgene didn’t cost more than $20, but it had sentimental value. My favorite Alaska sticker was on it, and it had traveled with me to some remarkable places.”
William Griffith, on the other hand, recently had his MacBook laptop computer stolen out of his house on Newell St.
“We had had a pretty big party the night before, and I left my computer out on the couch in the living room,” Griffith recalls. “My roommates were the last to go to bed once the house was empty, and they remember seeing the computer out where I had last left it. The next morning I woke up and it was gone, along with my roommate’s MacBook Pro and his cell phone.”
“The next day we called the police department and reported the crime. The officer I spoke with recommended I scan Craigslist and pawn shops in town for my computer, but didn’t express much hope. I did everything I could, but still nothing came up,” said Griffith.
In retrospect, Griffith wishes that he had done more to protect his computer that evening. But now, he takes more precautions with all of his belongings.
Officer Young explained how there are two different types of thieves in Bellingham: opportunists and targeted thieves.
“Most burglaries are crimes of opportunity, but you have to be prepared to defend your property from both types,” Young said.
Officer Young recommends keeping valuables locked up and in your home, avoiding leaving windows and doors open and always locking your car. Also make sure that you keep records of the make, model and serial number of all valuable goods.
Signing up for renters insurance is another good way to protect oneself of any financial losses via theft. Applications to locate and protect electronics, such as Find My Mac are worth looking into as well.
“If anything is stolen make sure to report it to the police. If it happens at Western contact Campus Police, anywhere else contact Bellingham Police Department,” Young concluded.