A student’s car was stolen from the EOS fitness parking garage on Halloween night. Sam Whitely, a third-year student in the nursing program, returned to the locker room and discovered that her entire bag was missing. She approached the front desk, where a worker helped her search for her bag. Minutes later, the worker found it in a changing room with Whitely’s keys, phone and wallet taken from it. From there, she and her boyfriend, Moe Haggerty rushed to the parking garage to see if her car was still there.
“When I got up to my floor of the parking garage I could see that my car was gone and I immediately broke down crying. I was in an utter panic and I didn’t know what to do,” said Whitely.
She called the police and reported her car as missing. Not much could be done until the burglar turned her phone location back on. Feeling defeated, she returned to her dorm room. After five hours of waiting, the location of her phone turned back on and was pinpointed to be at the same plaza they had just left. She and Haggerty got back in the car and returned to EOS.
Upon arrival, the worker suggested checking the back alley of the parking garage. To their astonishment, there sat Whitely’s stolen vehicle on the other side of the fence. Haggerty, who happens to be a marine, leaped into action.
“I hopped the fence because I didn’t want to lose sight of the car. While I’m standing there, I’m taking in my whole environment and doing what the marine corps taught me,” said Haggerty.
While Haggerty kept his eyes on the car, Whitely stayed on the phone with dispatch, informing them of the sudden urgency of the situation. Not even five minutes went by when she saw a man approaching her car with keys in his hand. She screams out to Haggerty that someone is walking up.
“I was still on the phone with dispatch trying to answer their questions when I saw the man walk up. I was afraid that the guy was going to get aggressive with Moe,” said Whitely.
Haggerty ran up to the man and yelled at him to give up the keys. The suspect, appearing to be caught off guard, handed them over. Once Haggerty told him that the cops were coming, the suspect got physical and said he had been to jail too many times. After that, he fled the scene. Haggerty’s first instinct was to protect Whitely.
“I wanted to punch him in his mouth, but I kept my cool because I didn’t know if he had a gun. I had to protect Sam,” said Haggerty.
Shortly after the suspect escaped, eight cop cars showed up. Seven cars went to catch the burglar, and one stayed on scene. Whitely and Haggertywere interviewed to confirm what he looked like, while other officers searched the car for signs of identity. Beer cans and cigarettes were found everywhere, and coins were taken in for fingerprint scanning.
The cops detained three potential suspects. Whitely and Haggertywere escorted by police to the different locations of detained suspects, however none matched who they saw.
The suspect was never caught, and the car was taken off the stolen car list. Whitely has not gone back to EOS and plans on cancelling her membership.
“I feel safe living at a christian college, but this has taught me that you cannot trust the general public. I cannot assume that everyone is trusting,” said Whitely.
Haggerty went back to EOS to talk to the manager, who offered an apology but no compensation. He said it is hard to monitor people who come in when they pay a membership fee. The manager said there are no cameras in the locker room or in the parking garage.
Apparently the public knows there are no cameras as well, because this is not the first time theft has happened in that parking garage. Jake Gutierrez, another PLNU student, had his laptop and backpack stolen out of his car after someone smashed through a window. Haggerty believes there’s a complete lack of security at the gym and the parking garage needs to be more heavily monitored.
“Be careful of who you are around. Always keep an eye on your belongings and be aware of your surroundings,” said Haggerty.
By: Camden Painton