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Purple Media Network

The Official Student Media of Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Purple Media Network

Purple Media Network

Natchitoches community unified in preventing crimes of opportunity from stealing students’ opportunities

Submitted by Jaylin Moore
Jaylin Moore checks his vehicle after a call informing him his car was getting broken into.

Jaylin Moore, a senior music business major, received a phone call from his downstairs neighbor at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. The call’s purpose, to inform him of an active break-in of his vehicle. The incident occurred at Moore’s residence, The Quad, an off-campus apartment complex. “I did not believe him at first, but then I got a feeling he was right,” Moore said. He then proceeded to go check his vehicle where he saw shattered glass everywhere from the two broken windows on the driver’s side of his vehicle.
Moore became a victim of vehicle burglary; a crime of opportunity committed by petty thieves around the country, from large cities like New York City and New Orleans to small communities like the City of Natchitoches.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana plays a vital role in Natchitoches. The population of the city drastically increases in the months of the NSU’s academic year. These population statistics make safety a forefront issue affecting NSU students, faculty and staff.
Cpl. John Greely, public information officer with the Natchitoches Police, discussed an unfortunately higher possibility of NSU students falling victims of these crimes: “I would say yes because a vast majority of folks in town are students and staff at the University, but students are not specifically targeted. It could happen to anyone because, as we discussed, these thieves are opportunistic and will break into whatever vehicle they can get into.”
Cpl. Greely emphasized these suspects seek “crimes of opportunity,” which means these crimes lack involvement of advanced planning by thieves. Anyone may fall victim to these crimes, not because of premeditated targeting of specific individuals or demographics, but because each individual case simply became an opportunity a criminal took advantage of. This means the higher likelihood of these crimes occurring against NSU students exists because of the group’s population density in Natchitoches, not because criminals target the student population as vulnerable criminal opportunities.
Opportunities to criminals exist in ways many people may never expect. NSU Police Captain Wesley Harrell used an example in a statement, “if I sit a 100 dollar bill on the dashboard in my vehicle, and if I roll my window down and I park in the parking lot for 6 hours, it’s a good chance that somebody walking by may take the 100 dollars.”
Cpl. Greely with Natchitoches PD also commented on what opportunity may look like. “Different criminals look for different opportunities, as some may look for laptops or weapons while others may simply not want to pay $30 to $50 for the phone charger plugged into your center console,” he said.
Captain Harrell and Cpl. Greely both shared common ways thieves capitalize on opportunities to steal. A majority of reported thefts from vehicles typically occur for two reasons; either items of value get left in plain view, or vehicle doors left unlocked make access to items much more inviting and low-risk for thieves. Thieves typically only break windows or force access if they clearly see higher valued items like electronics, money, wallets or weapons.
In Jaylin Moore’s case, the suspect shattered his windows using large rocks they found in the area, causing $750 to $800 in vehicular damage and stealing his backpack which contained his laptop computer and piano textbook.
Cpl. Greely with Natchitoches PD also shared ways citizens may prevent their vehicles getting broken into which include locking your doors, hiding all items out of plain view while out in public and taking all valuable items out of your vehicle when arriving at your place of residence. Cpl. Greely also encouraged everyone to write down serial numbers of any items of value. When police recover stolen items, they are more likely to trace specific items back to specific owners if they include the serial number at the time they report it stolen.
Captain Harrell with NSU PD also shared the importance of students, faculty and staff downloading the new “Campus Shield” app to cellular devices, which offers resources like quicker contact to campus safety officials and a platform for campus community members to make anonymous tips and reports of suspicious activity on campus.
As for Moore, if he ever got the chance to meet the thief who stole from him, he said, “Honestly, I would not want to meet them. People work too hard for the things they have, so for them to just say ‘screw it, let’s do it’ just angers me.” Friends of Moore organized a Gofundme fundraiser to replace stolen items and repair damage to his vehicle.

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