By Sasha Kline
There have been 21 crimes committed this year in the Jefferson park and ride lot, which is used heavily by students who park their vehicles and commute to Cheney by bus for school, according to Spokane Transit Authority’s Communication Manager Molly Myers.
“That’s really very low [for] incidents over a period of almost an entire year and especially with that volume of traffic going through,” said Myers. “I think that our stats are pretty good.”
The 21 crimes that the Spokane Transit Authority shows as having been committed in 2012 were reported by civilians and are not official police reports. Myers said she does not know if their statistics include every single crime committed in the lot but that they have several ways for people to contact them with any type of problem. “People are pretty good about reporting stuff to us,” she said.
According to Spokane Police crime mapping statistics, 753 crimes have been committed within a half-mile radius from the First Presbyterian Church, which is directly across the street from the Jefferson lot.
Myers said, regarding the difference in numbers, “We do patrol [the Jefferson lot] and we do have security in there. A lot of those properties around there don’t.” The Jefferson lot is one of the safest park and rides that the Spokane Transit Authority has because it is patrolled by security and heavily used, according to Myers. “We average four hours a day of being onsite, as far as patrolling that particular park and ride,” Myers said
Spokane Police Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said, “[Spokane Police] have not identified that particular area as a huge crime-ridden place.” Spokane Police have not categorized the lot as a hot spot to watch for crime because they are currently not seeing a significant rise in crime, according to DeRuwe.
According to the Spokane Transit Authority, the two crimes committed the most in the lot are vehicle prowling and malicious mischief with seven counts each.
The Spokane crime mapping for one-half mile around that area shows 179 counts of vehicle prowling and 224 counts of malicious mischief. The police statistics also show these two crimes as the most committed in the Jefferson lot area with theft coming in third at 132 counts.
According to Washington State Legislature, “A person is guilty of vehicle prowling in the second degree if, with intent to commit a crime against a person or property therein, he or she enters or remains unlawfully in a vehicle.”
Malicious mischief is defined by the legislature as a person who knowingly and maliciously causes physical damage to the property of another.
Spokane Transit Authority suggests that bus passengers park underneath a light if possible and close to a loading zone. They also suggest that passengers stay in their vehicles until the bus arrives or wait for the bus with a group of people. In addition, they strongly suggest keeping valuables out of plain sight and the vehicle locked.
Spokane Police has a campaign called “Remove It or Lose It” that was launched in an effort to prevent vehicle prowling, according to Officer DeRuwe. “We try to encourage people to lock up valuables out of sight. … It’s amazing what people leave in their cars.”
Upon returning to your vehicle, the Spokane Transit Authority advises passengers to always be aware of their surroundings and to return to the bus if they feel threatened. Otherwise, they suggest bus riders have their keys ready to open the vehicle and to look inside prior to entry.
According to Myers, the lot does not have cameras yet, but that it’s on the list of things to do.
The other seven crimes that were reported to the Spokane Transit Authority were two offenses related to opened or consumed liquor in public, one motor vehicle theft, one abandoned vehicle, two information-only calls, and one police response.