A number of criminal mischief reports have come into the campus police where students feel that damage to their cars has come as retaliation from angry drivers who they may have taken a parking spot from or cut off.
Good parking spaces are a commodity on campus, considering the ongoing construction and increased enrollment. The desire to get a parking space coupled with the frustration of having someone else take it may be enough to push someone over the edge.
On Feb. 4, according to the campus police blotter, "A female student reported air being let out of the tires on her car after she had parked and gone to class. The victim reported that she may have accidentally cut someone off on her way into the parking lot and felt it was retaliation."
Isaac Workman also feels like he is the victim of criminal mischief, since on Jan. 17 his Mercedes was keyed after he parked in a spot that another student wanted.
Workman said that when he got out of his car "the person in the car held on to their horn. I wondered what was going to happen. I wasn’t sure if it was going to escalate into confrontation. It was a girl; she rolled down her window and called me an ‘effer.’ When I came back to my car it had been keyed all down the passenger side."
Workman later found out after getting a flat tire that someone loosened the air-stem valves on the two tires of the right-hand-side of his car – a potentially dangerous action. He contacted campus police, but with little evidence to link the suspect to the crime, no action has yet taken place. Workman is offering $250 in cash to anyone who has information that could lead to an arrest and conviction of the person or persons who were involved in this crime. To contact Workman with any information, call (801) 830-4488.
Officer Chris Rockwood of campus police says that such incidents do not occur often, and when they do, a conviction is hard to come by since there is usually a lack of evidence. "The one driver parks, he goes into school, comes out and finds his vehicle is keyed and assumes that the person in the other car caused the damage, and it is only an assumption on his part. Nobody ever saw the person keying his car. We investigate those until we found out either who did it or we can’t investigate it any more."
Cases of road rage also happen on campus. On Jan. 19, 2007, according to the police blotter, "A 49 year old school employee upset over an incident in the round-a-bout began to chase another vehicle through the parking lots near the Liberal Arts Building. The other vehicle slammed on its brakes, causing the employee to rear end the other vehicle. Both drivers were cited for disorderly conduct."
"The guy who hit his brakes, it ruined his car," said Rockwood. "You wouldn’t necessarily say he was happy. Did he get even with the guy who was following him and flipped him off? I guess you would have to ask him."
Rockwood suggests reporting any case of road rage. Almost everyone has a cell phone, and can contact the campus police, city police or highway patrol depending on where the incident happened.
"During my time when I was at Orem, we had a road rage incident that involved a firearm," said Rockwood. "A guy took a 9mm out and shot the rear view mirror off the other car."
"In a road rage incident, you don’t know who you’re dealing with – if that person has weapons in his car. So the best thing to do first of all is avoid them. Nothing is worth getting physical with another person over a parking spot. I know that parking spots on campus are premium, but they’re not worth fighting over."
Another crime that happens in parking lots on campus is hit-and-runs. Any hit-and-run incident witnessed should be reported to campus police. Get the suspect’s license plate, a description of the driver’s car, and a description of the driver if possible.
Rockwood said that most of the time when students hit another car in a parking lot, they leave a note with personal information, and doing that is the appropriate thing to do.
According to Rockwood, when one is involved in any car accident in the state of Utah where the damage is $1000 or more, it has to be reported to the police.
In any case of road rage, criminal mischief, or hit-and-run, drivers or observers should not overreact, and should go through the correct avenues to resolve the matter.