Vehicle-related crimes on the rise in East Lansing

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Bobby Cushing

Cars belonging to off-campus students have been targeted by car thefts recently.

After going through a lot in the last year, now Michigan State University students and staff are facing a new problem: a scare of car thefts, robberies, and burglaries.

MSU has taken a few precautions to protect on-campus housing students, including locking all building doors after 6 p.m. that can only be opened with a student I.D. card and adding locks on every classroom door.  But what is the university doing or what have they done to protect the off-campus students who attend MSU?

On Aug. 16, MSU sent out a timely warning email about car thefts and robberies have been on an increase.

“In the last five days a pattern has developed in regards to thefts of motor vehicles…This bulletin serves as a warning and a community reminder to make sure all motor vehicles are secured and in designated parking areas when left unattended,” the email read.

Some victims of vehicle break-ins said perpetrators look for insurance cards and registration as first steps to steal someone’s identity.   

East Lansing’s crime rate is “considerably higher than the national average” according to NeighborhoodScout,

“Relative to Michigan, East Lansing has a crime rate that is higher than 92% of the state’s cities and towns of all sizes,” reported the crime watch website. 

The city’s motor vehicle theft rate is nearly double Michigan’s average, 5.12 per 1,000 residents compared to 2.68.  East Lansing has about 96 crimes per square mile, the average in Michigan is 23. Car break-ins and thefts are also on the rise from the last month of last school year, reported Neighborhood Scout.

The graphic below shows crime relating to car thefts, break-ins, burglary, and robbery in the past few weeks surrounding Michigan State’s campus – via

MSU student Lindsay Rabinowitz had an oil leak in her moped so she took it to Scooters2Go in Lansing on Tuesday.  With work and commitments, she was unable to pick it up later that day. 

On Friday, Rabinowitz called Scooters2Go to ask if her moped was ready but was informed that the store was broken into and her moped was stolen, she said.  Immediately, she called her parents and the insurance company.  Luckily her parents were “very optimistic” and were able to work something out with Rabinowitz. 

“It always could have gotten stolen, that’s always a fear I had,” she said. “It does make me a little worried.” 

Since the weather has been nice she has been walking more but once it starts to get colder she will want to use her new moped. 

Cooper Arends and Aaron Shapo, both MSU juniors living off campus for the first time, said they felt much safer when living in the residence halls. They try to lock the doors every night to stay safe.

East Lansing Police Sgt. Travis Bove said car break-ins, thefts, and robberies are tough to patrol. These crimes cause a reactive style of policing rather than a proactive style. 

“[ELPD] can’t be everywhere at once,” Bove said, but “officers are so committed to students and civilians.”

Police departments across the country are struggling to hire more officers, East Lansing included. Since 2020, precincts have received fewer and fewer applicants every year. 

To try and combat the recent break-in trend East Lansing Police put out bait cars to try and catch the perpetrators.

Bove also said civilians have a responsibility to work with the police to stop crimes. As far as Kias goes, owners should get their keys updated. The police can help communicate safety tips and messages, like bringing awareness to be responsible adults. 

If you are the victim of a vehicle-related crime, call the police and keep track of the serial numbers of your phone, computer, and tablets. Take pictures of jewelry and other valuables. ELPD uses a law enforcement information network (LEIN) and works with detectives to find stolen merchandise. 

According to the MSU Department of Public Safety, “research how safe the commute to campus will be” and “ research to see if police or security patrol the grounds or buildings” via their website 

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