Security and safety of transportation vehicles


Megan Mesikapp

Image of Lane Tech parking lot

By Megan Mesikapp, Reporter

After a recent theft of a bicycle from Lane’s bike rack and a vehicle from Rockwell St., Lane Tech’s Chief of Security Michael Smith said students should be proactive, watchful and always make sure to secure their vehicles.

On Oct. 20 a 1961 light blue Sedan Deville Cadillac was missing from its usual spot on Rockwell St. Junior Robert Oakley, Div. 372, had his vehicle stolen off of Rockwell around 12:30 p.m. He usually parks in the same spot every single day on Rockwell, and there was nothing different about that day, according to Oakley.

Oakley’s vehicle was found exactly a week later on Oct. 27, but he will be taking precautions going forward. For instance, he will install a security system and park in a different location every day.

“I am going to park in a different spot every day,” Oakley said. “[It] sets you up as a target to be carjacked, have your car stolen.”

Oakley gives advice to students so they do not end up in the same situation as him.

“Don’t sit in your car for a long time before or after school,” Oakley said. “And never leave your keys in your car.”

An unrelated incident occurred on Oct. 26. A community message was sent out to the Lane community reporting an individual who attempted to break into several student and staff cars. After analyzing the security footage, Lane security described the suspect. The suspect appeared to be an older male and was most likely not a member of the Lane Tech community, according to Principal Edwina Thompson.

The suspect did steal a bicycle from Lane’s bike rack because it was not locked up, according to Thompson.

“I am suggesting that people actually secure their property, and that really helps,” Thompson said.

In terms of making the Lane Tech parking lot safer, Thompson would ideally like to have security monitoring the lot throughout the day, but unfortunately, that privilege is not available.

“In an ideal world, we would have enough staff where I could have a security guard who actually is outside and monitoring that lot, not the entire day, but throughout the day at various times,” Thompson said. “So that would include more staffing.”

According to Thompson, any visible items of value or loose change have greater potential for your car to become a victim of auto theft or vandalism.

“Keep valued possessions with you,” Thompson said.

Despite recent incidents, the Lane Tech lot, as a whole, has been pretty safe in terms of vehicle security over the course of several years, according to Thompson. However, areas outside of Lane’s site will continue to remain out of Lane’s control.

Lane Tech’s Chief of Security, Michael Smith, said Lane’s security force only has jurisdiction over Lane’s lot. There has not been an uprising of “vandals” in Lane’s lot in comparison to years past. In fact, many complaints have stemmed from small incidents, Smith said.

Students should stay off of cellular devices and headphones to keep a watchful eye and open ears, along with taking other extra safety precautions. As a student, be aware of staying later in the building, try and park on a street that has a decent amount of street lights, Smith said.

This is especially important now that daylight savings is over, which means losing daylight in the afternoon more rapidly.

“It’s a little bit darker — just make sure the area you’re walking in is light,” Smith said.

If a student sees their vehicle in immediate danger, the most important thing is student safety.

“If somebody is going up to your car and they have a weapon, give them your car,” Smith said.

Carjacking is when a person is actively using violence to occupy a vehicle, and a stolen vehicle is when a person takes another person’s property without legal permission.

As of Nov. 14, there have been a total of 8,972 motor vehicle theft incidents, according to the Chicago Police Department citywide computer statistics. Carjacking and stolen vehicles both fall under that category.

Students who do not park in the parking lot have the potential to make parking areas in and around Lane safer, said Smith. He recommends all students should watch where they are walking and avoid congregating in areas where heavy traffic is common.

Smith said he wishes he could give out stickers that permit students to park in Lane’s lot for all students who have driver’s licenses, but because of the lot size, he cannot. So students and staff should continue to be mindful of their surroundings and their vehicles to make them more secure and create a safer community.