The University of Wisconsin Athletic Department suspended linebacker Elijah Hodge from the football team for violating the Department of Athletics' Student-Athlete Discipline Policy after he reportedly stole a student's moped Monday. Hodge has not yet been legally charged for the incident.
According to UW Assistant Chief of Police Dale Burke, a student reported the stolen moped Sept. 18, but spotted it outside the McClain Center the next day. UW Police Department officers were dispatched to the scene, he said, and confirmed it was stolen after matching the vehicle's identification number.
Burke said the police officer on the scene waited outside the McClain center to see if an owner would claim the moped. Minutes later, he noted, Hodge approached it and attempted to drive away on the vehicle.
After witnessing these actions, Burke said the officer on the scene arrested Hodge on the spot.
"[The officer] decided to watch the moped for a little while, see if someone would come back to get it," Burke described. "A short time later, Mr. Hodge approached, got on the moped and started it up — he was immediately placed under arrest."
Hodge was taken to the Dane County Jail, booked and later released on the charge of operating a motor vehicle without the owner's consent, he added.
Justin Doherty, director of athletic communications, issued a brief statement to the press, but declined any comment on the issue until further action occurs.
"We are reviewing the matter as facts become available," he said.
The UW Athletic Department suspended Hodge from competition and practice until more legal information emerges.
Yet Burke said there are certain precautions all moped owners should follow to prevent further thefts or complications. Securing the vehicle is the obvious solution, he said, but officially registering it is helpful for quick recovery.
The bottom line is to avoid becoming a victim, he explained, just like many other public safety issues taking place around campus recently.
"We advise all the time … keep [mopeds] locked and make sure they are properly registered," Burke said. "Those are the two best things you can do to prevent yourself from becoming a victim."