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Vehicle burglary turns violent

A man pointed a gun at him before he could even open the door to his truck.

This happened to a USF student last week as he left the Library and noticed two men sitting inside his vehicle.

The victim, who did not want to be identified, said the incident occurred Tuesday night in the parking lot behind the Library when he asked the man who was sitting in the driver’s seat what he was doing.

The victim said the man responded by opening the door, pointing a gun at him and telling him not to speak.

Vehicular vandalism and auto theft occurring on campus, the victim said, is not a surprise to him. But now, he said, he is concerned other students will encounter the same situation.

There have been at least 38 auto burglaries at USF since Sept. 12, according to a University Police report.

Sgt. Mike Klingebiel, spokesman for UP, said the number of auto burglaries has increased since last year, but this is the first time he is aware that vandalism to a vehicle has turned violent.

“I don’t recall any time before when victims were assaulted like that,” Klingebiel said. “I don’t expect it to escalate.”

Klingebiel said the victim reported that the incident occurred at about 10:40 p.m.

According to a police report, the suspects are two black males. One was described as about 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 9 inches, 215 pounds with a husky build. The other suspect was described as 5 feet 11 inches to 6 feet and slim. The suspects’ ages are unknown, Klingebiel said.

The suspects, according to the victim, pointed a black semi-automatic 9 mm pistol at him when he confronted them about the burglary, Klingebiel said. The two suspects fled the scene in a white four-door Chevrolet Cavalier after stealing the victim’s CD player, according to the report.

“This is not a unique crime to campus,” Klingebiel said. “That area itself is not proven to be the only vulnerable area on campus.”

At the beginning of the month, seven vehicles were vandalized in the parking lot near Magnolia Apartments with $3,145 worth of damages.

While Klingebiel advises that students use security systems on their vehicles and not leave valuables in sight, he said officers are still continuing to patrol the campus looking for suspicious activities.

Each night, Klingebiel said there are at least three officers patrolling all areas of the campus. Klingebiel said the department is in the process of hiring new officers, however, the shortage is not what is affecting the department’s daily operations.

University Police have a mutual agreement with Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department and the Tampa Police Department to assist campus officers if needed, Klingebiel said.

“I think we’re far away from that,” Klingebiel said.

In April 1996, because of a letter The Oracle received threatening to bomb a USF building, outside officials had to come shut down campus buildings.

“Those things are beyond our control,” Klingebiel said.

Klingebiel said he suggests those who witness a crime call 911 immediately.

“Don’t intervene with property and try to be a good witness,” Klingebiel said.

Anyone who can assist police with suspicious activity is asked to call 974-2628.