By Jackson Moran ’20
On January 21st, the Brophy speech and debate team was away at a tournament in Oakland, California when three students and one teacher had their car burglarized.
The group was heading to the airport, and decided to stop at a restaurant in San Francisco when the SUV’s windows were broken and numerous items and bags were stolen.
“Generally on the last day of Speech and Debate tournaments, before we fly out of town, we try and do something involving the city that we’re in,” said Mr. Mike Welty ’83.
Mr. Welty, one of the victims of the theft, had several of his items stolen, including his computer.
“We’re having breakfast and literally, the restaurant overlooks the area where we’re parked, but we go outside and our SUV had all the windows smashed out,” he said.
The restaurant, called Cliff House, is located on the San Francisco Bay at a place called Point Lobos.
“In the city of San Francisco in general, and at the tourist spots in particular, these smash and grab crimes are really common,” Mr. Welty said.
Scenic areas, such as Point Lobos, with lots of tourists carrying valuables such as cameras and loose change are often popular targets for burglars.
“It was fairly awful, we had just finished with the tournament so the guys had all of their stuff in their bags,” Mr. Welty said.
Three other students lost their bags as a result of the burglary, and only one had his bag recovered, without his more valuable possessions.
“We were just walking around for a bit so we left our backpacks in the car, and we hid them under the seats,”said Aarin Shah ’20, one of the students on the trip whose bag was stolen.
He added it was a very public place as well and that there were many passersby.
Shah lost a variety of items, particularly his school iPad, personal laptop, AirPods and some school supplies.
Another student, Eshan Kalra ’20 lost his laptop, a debate stand, his retainer and his glasses.
According to a guide published by Arizona State University, personal electronics and car components are the most frequent items stolen during car break ins.
Mr. Welty brought in the San Francisco Police Department when he made a call and filed a police report.
This is especially important, as police reports are used to verify fraudulent claims, and are required by most insurance companies.
“We talked to a police officer and talked about what we lost, but nothing since then has really happened,” Shah said.
“Smash and Grab” crimes are incredibly hard to follow up with due to the lack of evidence and witnesses associated with the speed at which the act is committed.
“The police were very straightforward with us that it was very unlikely that any of this would be recovered,” Mr. Welty said, “There were some outdoor cameras, but I imagine that the thieves were disguised or that they operated so quickly that recognition would be nearly impossible.”
He added that they are still open to the possibility of something being recovered, but that they understand that they are not expecting it.
Upon return, each student faced a new problem as they were now without much of their schoolwork and technology.
The Brophy Student Handbook states that the “student user accepts all liability for the theft or loss of users’ computer or iPad and for covering the cost of the replacement of the computer or iPad.”
However, the school was, according to Kalra, Shah and Mr. Welty, very accommodating to them.
“I was very clear with the parents, and so was the technology department,” said Mr. Welty, “that if there were any issues that came as a result of this theft which put them behind or caused them to have difficulties, that we wanted the students, parents and teachers to talk to us.”
He said that he has heard nothing yet on this basis, and that he considers this a good thing because the students would have been able to get along well.
Kalra said that he received a loaner iPad and computer from Brophy, in order to temporarily replace his tech that was stolen.
“Right away they had me adjusted where I could still do my work without too much of a hassle, and then they emailed us about getting stuff on the Brophy insurance policy,” Shah said.
“All in all, had we been more cautious, we would have taken our bags with us into the restaurant and this probably would not have happened,” Mr. Welty said.