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Local police want students aware of increase in vehicle burglaries

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department (HCSD) issued an alert to the USF area Monday, warning about off-campus vehicle burglaries.

HCSD deputy Gabriel Aquino said 14 vehicle burglaries occurred near campus from Aug.1 to Sept. 22, near campus between 46th Street and 42nd Street North, and behind apartments located on Fletcher Avenue.

None of the cases are resolved, but most of them involved students, said HCSD detective David Oliver.

Aquino said students should keep valuables out of sight, lock their doors and activate the vehicle alarm system if possible.

Oliver said many people who transfer to USF come from areas with less crime. Therefore, precautions such as hiding valuables left in a vehicle and locking the doors go overlooked.

“Even if doors are locked, items left in the open (are) enticing someone to take a risk,” he said.

University Police spokeswoman Meg Ross said students should report any suspicious activity.

“If they’re not doing anything, no harm no foul, but we can’t do it without the help of the community,” she said.

Aquino said iPods, purses, GPS and laptops have been stolen. The department is looking for the items, which he said have probably been pawned for cash, and have begun investigating suspects.

Ross said students should park in well-lit areas and that “parking where you can see your car when in a restaurant can be helpful.”

Oliver said there have been situations where windows were broken to get into a car because items were in plain view.

“A: lock your car and B: take your stuff inside to eliminate the opportunity of being a victim,” he said.