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Saturday, December 15, 2018

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Crime alerts are sent out to inform and engage the community about relevant safety events and issues. Crime alerts are sent out to inform and engage the community about relevant safety events and issues.

Behind the Crime Alert

Police Captain Joshua Mays talks about campus safety.
By Alyson Faucett

How do you react when you open your inbox and see the subject line “Crime Alert?”

Perhaps you are fearful, curious, or maybe you delete the email right away.

This year the San Diego State University annual safety and security report has shown that when students pay attention to the alerts sent out by the SDSU Police Department they become an integral part of the campus safety system.

Police Captain Joshua Mays has served the SDSU Police Department for 11 years. He oversees a team of 23 officers dedicated to keeping the SDSU campus safe and secure. However, even this team can’t foresee many of the crimes that occur day-to-day.

“Apple picking”

The Jeanne Clery Act requires the Police Department to send out a crime alert anytime there is a threat to the university community. Alerts are not sent out if the suspect has already been caught or if there is no potential for the crime to happen again.

Lately, the vast majority of crime alerts have concerned robberies related to Apple iPhone theft. According to Mays, thieves are drawn to Apple products not only because they are expensive to purchase initially, but also because they hold their resale value.

The police are referring to this national trend as “Apple picking,” and it has been happening across the country for several years. However, that is not to say that these crimes can’t be avoided.


“The easiest thing students can do to keep themselves safe is walk in well-lit areas,” said Mays, who lectures about safety precautions each year at orientation.

All campus walkways are lit and lined with blue emergency telephones that connect directly to the police station. If someone ever finds themselves in a situation that might need police attention, Mays encourages them to always hit the call button on a blue telephone or call the police themselves.

“Don’t question it, don’t try to rethink it and don’t talk yourself out of it. Just call the police. We’ll be there,” Mays said.

When walking off campus, visible use of a cell phone or ear buds could trigger a thief’s attention. The majority of robberies are the result of the suspect taking the phone from the hands of the victim when the victim is distracted. For this reason it is important to keep devices out of sight.

If someone feels that they might be in a bad situation, Mays said that confidence is key.

“If you see someone who is approaching you and you feel uncomfortable about it, stand up straight and look them in the eye or say something to them,” Mays said.

“They won’t usually go after people who act like that because now you know what they look like.”

Remain aware

Although there has been an increase in robberies on campus, arrests have also been rising, Mays said. There have been numerous cases in the past year where an arrest was made based on a tip from someone who saw the crime alert. Crime alerts also serve as reminders to be aware of your surroundings.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that an average college student is carrying around approximately $2,000 worth of technology. With that in mind, you might be more inclined to take your laptop with you to the bathroom, rather than leave it out on a table for someone to slyly grab.

Inform and engage

Crime alerts are not designed to scare the university community or make people hypersensitive about safety. They are sent out to inform and engage the community about relevant safety events and issues.

You can stay informed on campus crime alerts, parking and traffic and important safety announcements on the SDSU Police Department website.