Lock your car doors, hide your valuables out of sight, University Police warn

Alicia Frink noticed her driver's side window was smashed in earlier this month. PHOTO COURTESY OF ALICIA FRINK

A cool, yet humid morning on Feb. 7 was perfect for Alicia Frink’s upcoming track practice. The freshman runs the 1500-meter event and was training for distance.

She went out to her car and admired the glowing red sunrise. Frink’s mood changed when she got to her gray, 2012 Honda CR-V.

“Glass was everywhere,” she told The Oracle on Monday. “I was scared, so I called my dad.”

After a conversation with her father, Frink called the USF Police Department (UP). The offense report for Frink’s vehicle stated that the front driver window was smashed in and that the interior appeared to be in disarray.

Frink remembered that she had been grocery shopping at Walmart the night before. She got back to parking lot 5E, which is directly south of the Maple dorms, around 11:30 p.m. and left her blue, leather wallet sitting on the console in plain sight.

The wallet and all of its contents were now missing, UP Officer Bryan Velazquez reported.

While he was writing the offense report for Frink’s vehicle, Velazquez noticed a 1998 Pontiac Grand Prix in the same parking lot with its passenger’s side window rolled completely down.

The owner of the Pontiac said his window was rolled up when he left his car around 9:30 the night before. The passenger’s window is still intact but is stuck in the open position.

These two incidents aren’t the only ones, though.

UP reported 10 auto burglaries from Jan. 1–Feb. 14. Eight of the burglaries happened on USF’s campus and six involved broken windows.

In the same time period from last year, there were three burglaries. One was unfounded because the victim said he lost his property instead and the other two were from unlocked vehicles — none involved broken windows.

UP spokeswoman Audrey Clarke said there are presently no suspects in any of the cases. A common theme among some of the incidents is that the victims left valuable belongings in plain sight, like a wallet, purse or a watch.

One victim had a black Columbia bag and a GoPro bag lying on the rear seat of his Toyota Tacoma. His passenger window was broken and both bags were taken. Whoever stole the bags rummaged through them and ditched them at a different part of the parking lot when they didn’t find anything of value.

The burglaries have happened in parking lots across campus and are not isolated in one particular area. UP released this information Feb. 7 via a crime alert.

“We strongly encourage community members to lock their vehicle doors and secure belongings out of sight," Clarke said. "Call 911 if an in-progress crime is observed or to report suspicious activity.”

Anybody who has information about the burglaries can contact UP at 813-974-2628.