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Vehicle burglaries increase on campus

In the past week, a total of 14 on-campus thefts were reported to University Police. The items included backpacks, textbooks, purses, wallets, cell phones, vehicle tires, radar detectors and jewelry.

UP spokesman Sgt. Mike Klingebiel said it’s difficult to compare campus theft from one year to another because the campus population fluctuates. However, Klingebiel said the rise in campus population tends to lead to a rise in crime.

“If the population on campus was stable, it would be easy to compare one year to the next, but we have picked up Fontana Hall, Embassy Suites and Magnolia in two years, so it’s hard to say what’s abnormal (in theft occurrences),” Klingebiel said.

Four of the thefts included incidents in which personal items were stolen from vehicles between Nov. 10 to 14, according to police reports.

USF is not the only area experiencing a rise in theft of items from vehicles, Klingebiel said.

“Throughout Hillsborough and Pinellas counties there has been a rash of vehicle burglaries that do not have a pattern or any known suspect groups, and all agencies are dealing with it,” he said.

Klingebiel said the UP has not been able to detect any patterns of theft on campus. The thefts have occurred throughout various areas on campus. In order to prevent thefts, Klingebiel said there are effective precautions of which students, staff and faculty should be aware.

“Visible valuables, such as textbooks and expensive stereo systems, are target items for theft, so we recommend those belongings be kept out of sight,” he said.

In addition, Klingebiel said the UP has 100 free Clubs for large trucks or sports utility vehicles, which he said are usually effective deterrents of car theft. The UP also provides engraving for valuables.

“(The engraving) is free of charge for bikes, or any electronic equipment, and it helps prove the item belongs to the person if their driver’s license (number) is on it,” he said. “If someone came up to me and said a bike was theirs, I’d have a hard time finding the proof unless they had their license (number) engraved on it.”

He said it’s a good idea for students to write their license numbers in their textbooks because if they are stolen and sold at the bookstore, students can prove it was their book, and the book will be returned to them.

“What tends to happen (with theft) is students focus on studies and forget about the Playstations, movies and stereos or they find no use for a bike any more and then those items disappear and they can’t remember when the last time was that they saw them,” Klingebiel said.

Those interested in obtaining a Club for large trucks or sport utility vehicles can pick one up at the UP station on Holly Drive by presenting proof of registration.