What’s the punishment for breaking into cars at Occidental College? Not what you would expect



EAGLE ROCK  — A juvenile suspected of breaking into students’ cars at Occidental College earlier this month was apprehended by campus police, reports the student-run The Occidental Weekly. But the suspect, who stole about $20 in cash and items, was not turned over to police. Instead, the campus cop who caught the thief, a homeless youth who lives in the area,  gave the suspect $20, recorded an apology from the youth — “I’m sorry for breaking into your cars and I won’t do it again” — and advised him to stop by the campus safety office if he ever needed help. Some parents of the student victims are not happy about this.

Campus Safety Chief Victor Clay, who caught the youth, explained his approach to The Weekly:

“I didn’t want to report him to LAPD because what happens is, he’s a juvenile, he’s under 18, and it would take a cop out of the field for like 12 hours trying to process him,” Clay said. “He won’t go to jail. Nothing will happen to him for stealing $20, except it will put a record on him and he’ll never be able to escape that.”

Clay made the decision to offer support to rather than punish the culprit based on the restorative strategies he has understood to be most effective in his nearly 30 years of experience in law enforcement. At the same time, Campus Safety does inform every victim of a crime that they have the option of reporting any crime to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) if they so choose.

“If a crime victim wanted the subject arrested or detained (in the case of a juvenile), I would gladly give LAPD all information and assist them in every way,” Clay said via email.

Clay said his decision received “pushback” from parents of the students whose cars were broken into. But Clay said the suspect would be back on the street if his parents signed for his release.

Read the full story in The Occidental Weekly.

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  1. Interesting approach…I hope the young man is able to understand that compassion and leniency in this situation is an attempt to help him.

  2. Campus Safety Chief Victor Clay, who caught the youth, explained his approach to The Weekly:

    This was the right way to go about the issue.. Give the officer some help and make a day for someone like this.
    Maybe just maybe it will help this kid

  3. Wonder what it will cost in repairs to the cars the kid broke into – did he jimmy the locks, break the windows, etc… probably not worth it to report to insurance, but then someone is out of pocket a lot more than 20 bucks. What will he get for a second offense – Disneyland tickets?

  4. I stand behind this officer.

  5. great action Chief Victor Clay ! people please understand that we can solve problems among our communities without having cop and courts and your tax payers money involved. thank you for being human mr. Clay,

  6. band aid. this kid and other homeless need much more and consistent help

  7. Why does this surprise anybody? The campus police at Oxy, looked the other way when female students were getting raped and sexually assaulted!

  8. Keep track of crime using the crime mapping in the area. I know all the shady hood rats in the neighborhood. I already had to kick out a car squatter in front of my house near Oxy. I even gave him a chance. While I was lenient, the neighbors weren’t so friendly giving him several broken windows and got his car towed. Now he’s officially homeless. Now it’s officially illegal to park and sleep overnight in your vehicle in LA, so no need to resort to such tactics.

    • Typical L.A. City Council reaction to create another law instead of solving a problem. Maybe do something about the ridiculous high cost of rent and lack of affordable housing,

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