A cut-open fence overlooking San Diego City College’s practice field was used as an entry way for theft on campus. Photo by Danny Straus/City Times Media
A cut-open fence overlooking San Diego City College’s practice field was used as an entry way for theft on campus. Photo by Danny Straus/City Times Media

Series of break-ins at City College gym, sports fields pulling resources from athletics budget

SDCCD police logs include nine reports of incidents at campus athletics facilities since start of calendar year

On the afternoon of March 5, ten pairs of basketball shoes were stolen from the Harry West Gym locker room while the San Diego City College men’s basketball team practiced.

The theft occurred four days before the Southern California Regional Final, a win-or-go-home playoff matchup against Allan Hancock College.

The shoes were recovered in time for the game, but it was one of a series of crimes committed at City College campus athletics facilities this year. 

According to San Diego Community College District police logs obtained by City Times Media through a California Public Records Act request, nine crimes were committed at Harry West Gym and other athletics facilities between January 9 and March 5. 

Five of these crimes were reported as vandalism, two were burglaries, one was possession of stolen property and the other was petty theft, according to the logs.

A new lock, above, has been added to the San Diego City College athletics field shed to replace one that was broken and stolen, below. Photo by Danny Straus/City Times Media

After consulting lawyers from the Student Press Law Center and Student Press Freedom Initiative, City Times Media requested more detailed SDCCD police reports for all nine incidents in a second California Public Records Act request.

City Times Media then received an arrest log from SDCCD Police on May 15, stating one person was arrested on the property of campus athletics facilities for two different cases on the same day, Feb. 29.

“Despite there being multiple crimes and victims, there was one arrest made,” said SDCCD Police Lieutenant Jeff Hughes in an interview before the arrest log was released. 

According to the SDCCD website, SDCCD police officers provide the primary law enforcement response on and around City, Mesa and Miramar college campuses.

According to Hughes, there was $4,000 worth of equipment in total stolen from campus athletics field sheds.

The most expensive item was a scoreboard controller, priced at $1,500, used during men’s and women’s soccer games.

According to City College Athletics Director Aaron Detty, the college’s insurance policy covers individual items stolen with a value of $2,500. 

As a result, Detty reallocated funds intended for facility renovations to cover the cost of vandalized and stolen equipment. 

“We’re trying to create a better facility by renovating the soccer field,” Detty said. “That’s thousands of dollars of grass each year, right? So we still have grass. But did we put in every penny we could? No, because we had a scoreboard controller stolen.”

Part of the problem stems from the location of City College’s athletics facilities, which are located in downtown San Diego. Some of San Diego’s unsheltered individuals circulate within close proximity to campus and sometimes wander onto City’s facilities, according to Hughes.

“That fence gets cut often. There is an unsheltered community that lives between the entrance to the 5 (freeway) there and the back of that fence,” Hughes said. “We do what we can as far as offering resources, … however, that’s going to continue to be kind of an attractive nuisance because there’s a lot of privacy there.”

Hughes added that while not all unsheltered individuals commit crimes, the incidents on campus were predominately committed by unsheltered persons. Based on the records provided, City Times Media is unable to independently verify any further details.

After the ten pairs of basketball shoes were stolen, teachers and coaches who use the gym were on high alert to lock up after themselves. 

Men’s basketball head coach Mitch Charlens was one of those affected.

“There are back door entrances here,” Charlens said, “so we just have to lock those back doors while we’re in practice, and when we’re done we have to lock up after ourselves.”

Although the string of events happened in a short period of time, Detty believes this isn’t a common issue on campus. 

“The biggest challenge,” Detty said, “is that we have great people here watching over everything, but this is happening outside of normal hours in general.” 

According to Hughes, there isn’t video surveillance in these areas, but there is a volunteer-based program called City Knights Watch that comes on campus during evening hours when he said students are “most vulnerable.”

“This issue (of video surveillance) has been debated on campus, with students’ privacy being the main focus of contention,” Hughes said. “I want City College to feel welcoming. And I think if there is a camera from every post, there’s people that aren’t going to want to come there.”

“Nobody wants to live in a police state,” Hughes said. “Even police officers don’t wanna live in (a police) state.”

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