Don’t leave items in car unattended

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    As Sgt. Kelly Ham responded to a call for a suspicious vehicle in a campus parking lot, he said he counted 12 visible GPS devices on car dashboards.

    He said when he attended the call for the suspicious vehicle, it didn’t seem like students paid close attention to the warnings that had been sent out in regard to the recent burglaries.

    “If the burglars don’t see anything to steal, more than likely they won’t break out a window to look through the car,” he said.

    There were 15 car burglaries on campus within the last month and 12 break-ins, he said. Since last October there have been 106 break-ins on campus.

    Yesterday a student called TCU Police to report two individuals that looked into a car window, backed up into the spot next to the vehicle and then drove off approximately 30 to 45 seconds later, he said.

    He said when the officers arrived at the scene they found a car that had been broken into.

    The witness, who watched the individuals in action, was unaware of the break-in, he said.

    He used this incident as an example but said a common report of suspicious behavior is people walking up and down rows, looking into cars.

    There is one individual associated with several of the break-ins that has not yet been arrested, he said. There are three warrants for the individual issued by a judge, with a bond of $45,000.

    Ham said the individual took GPS devices during every burglary, which is the most common stolen item from vehicles on campus.

    The suspect’s license plate was identified through a new surveillance system that has been installed in some areas of campus, he said.

    He said the university is in the process of installing the surveillance system in all campus parking lots. The new surveillance system has been tested for approximately six months.

    In a recent e-mail warning, Ham wrote that TCU Police and Fort Worth Police Department were advising all students, faculty, staff and residents to not leave any valuables in the vehicle.

    He said he no longer encourages students to lock belongings in the car because of the large number of newer vehicles that have trunk releases. Instead, he said the best idea would be for students to take their belongings with them.

    According to the e-mail, power cords, radar detectors, CDs, purses, books, backpacks, pagers, cell phones and radio faceplates were some items TCU Police advised to not be left where they could be seen.

    According to the police reports, in 17 cases of car burglaries and break-ins, damaged property ranged from $200 to $600. In three cases involving theft, stolen property ranged from $450 to $530.

    Most cases occurred in the campus overflow lot, located near the football stadium, according to the police reports.