When Ryan McKinney couldn't find his 1997 Honda Civic the morning of Jan. 13, he figured he'd simply forgotten which floor of Garage E he had left it on.
Annoyance flowed into alarm when, after searching all floors except the top one, his car couldn't be found. It was then that the freshman business major decided to call the police.
Together, McKinney said, they found the Honda on the top of Garage E, clearly broken into.
"It looked all right from the exterior, but you could tell that the hood had been opened," McKinney said. "Everything was everywhere, all across the car. My car audio was stolen."
The total damage, when evaluated by McKinney's dealer, was said to be $1,800.
As of right now, no one has been arrested. And the lack of security cameras inside parking garages is to blame, he said.
With this in mind, the UCF student took to change.org the very next day, calling for the Board of Trustees to add cameras to other areas of the on-campus garages besides the already monitored entrances.
A little more than two weeks later, the petition has almost reached its goal of 1,000 signatures.
"I don't want anyone to feel bad for me," McKinney said. "I want this to benefit everybody, maybe not even when I graduate, but maybe the people after that [who] come to UCF."
Christine Jacquot, a freshman environmental engineering major, was one of the signers motivated to add her name to list after her parking permit was stolen in Garage B this semester, resulting in four parking tickets.
"I feel that if there were cameras and some type of video surveillance, it would deter people from even trying to commit a crime," Jacquot said. "Nothing is there to prevent this [crime] from happening, so people feel that they can do whatever they want because they won't get caught."
A common complaint in the petition's comment section addresses hit-and-runs.
There are currently plans underway to add security cameras to the parking garages on campus, said Officer Peter Stephens of the UCF Police Department. These cameras, however, will not be monitored 24/7. Instead, they'll be reviewed when necessary, such as during a police investigation.
"It may deter some people [from committing a crime] who know that they will be seen on camera doing it," Stephens said. "The problem is the focus, if it's [the crime] happening on one end of the garage and the camera is on the other."
Stephens says that there is no set date for when these cameras will go up. He also warns students against owning certain cars, particularly 1996 to 2001 Honda Civics, which he claims are commonly stolen for their individual parts.
To combat crime, he suggests that students invest in LoJack — an automobile tracking device — or ignition kill switches.
According to the UCF Safety Guide for 2014-15, there were 13 on-campus incidents of motor vehicle theft reported in 2013.
The UCF Police Department's crime log, ranging from Dec. 5, 2014 to Feb. 3, lists five documented cases of burglary in relation to automobiles on the main campus.
Whether security cameras deter crime or not has been researched in many studies, with different researchers arriving at conflicting results. One New York University study in 2008 showed that security cameras barely help while an Urban Institute study from 2011 states the exact opposite.
To sign the petition
Go to change.org and search for Ryan McKinney. Click on the first link that says "Install more security cameras in every parking garage/parking lot."
Kimberly Slichter is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.