WKUPD works to return stolen property

Shantel-Ann Pettway

The WKU Police Department engages in numerous methods to return stolen items to students on campus. 

This semester there have been at least three reported bike thefts, according to WKUPD records. None of the bikes have been returned to their owners this semester.

“It can be hard to track bicycles if the owner doesn’t know the serial number to their bicycle,” said Capt. Dominic Ossello.

It’s easier for police to return stolen property when serial numbers are included in theft reports, Ossello said. 

The police department enters serial numbers in a state and nationwide computer system and collaborates with local pawnshops to identify stolen items, Ossello said. 

In order for these searches to be done, the serial numbers are required. Items that pop up in these databases are noted and WKUPD will be notified. 

If a student can’t provide a serial number, searches are conducted based off of the description. 

Ossello said some items that are reported have similar descriptions and that is why having a serial number is important. 

WKU Police Explorers, individuals who are trained to report and identify stolen property to the police, assist officers with searches. 

“If bikes are secretly stashed, patrols are trained to check out the items to determine if they are stolen,” Ossello said. 

Thefts happen all over campus, including inside residence halls.

Ossello said most thefts occur in dorms from students not locking their doors or leaving personal belongings unattended. 

For thefts that occur in dorm rooms, there are procedures in place to recover the stolen property.

“Thefts that occur in dorm rooms aren’t handled by our staff,” Sasha Ross, coordinator for Bemis Lawrence Hall, said. 

Hall directors are there to assist students filing reports, but the procedure is handled by the WKU Police Department.

“University police does (sic.) a good job following up with students,” Ross said. 

Resident halls have lost-and-found boxes that are managed by the desk clerks, but according to Ross on behalf of her dorm, there are never any lost items  of tremendous value in them.  

“We’ve had cell phones turned in, and we make students give us the passcode and other identifying information before they are returned to its owner,” Ross said.

Ossello said the price of the stolen items is irrelevant on what WKUPD bases their searches for thefts on and that all missing property is searched for in the same manner. 

Indianapolis sophomore and Gilbert Hall resident Jayauna Smith lost an item but was able to recover it.

“I lost my North Face jacket which had my name embroidered on it and I identified it to the desk clerk on duty and they returned it to me,” she said.​ “It’s good that they make you give details because anyone could claim your items.”