UCF students urge for garage security after tire thefts
Tuesday started as a normal school day for sophomore forensic science major Kebreyona “Keekee” Acker. However, her day took a turn around 6:30 p.m. when she received a phone call from UCF Police informing her that her tires had been stolen off her 2006 Honda Civic that was parked in Garage G.
Acker’s situation is not the first time a student’s tires have been stolen in a UCF parking garage. In fact, it is not even the first incident to occur this week.
Sophomore business management major Dan Krasnove was greeted with a similar situation on Monday.
“My friend and I were leaving Libra Garage when we saw a Honda Civic with no wheels,” Krasnove said. “We thought it was pretty funny until we realized that someone must have stolen them.”
Based on recent activity, Honda cars seem to be the most targeted for theft. The brand’s tires are versatile and will fit on most cars.
“The reason Honda parts are very commonly stolen here is because of the huge Honda market in this area,” said Robert Wright, a senior civil engineering major. “The wheels are the easiest part to put on another vehicle, and able to be removed from a car very quickly”.
While insurance may have covered the cost of replacing Acker’s missing tires, her situation still leaves her, and many other car owners, feeling concerned for their vehicle’s safety — and their own.
Many students have recently suggested the placement of surveillance cameras in garages on campus to catch possible theft in the act. Currently, garages only have a single camera, pointed toward the entrance and exit.
Ryan Patrick McKinney, a sophomore political science major, decided something needed to be done after his car was burglarized last spring.
“I woke up on the first day of the spring 2015 semester and went down to Garage E at around 7,” he said. “My car was found on the roof with my audio equipment and engine parts gone.”
McKinney started a petition earlier this year demanding more cameras in garages, and despite the petition reaching almost 1,500 signatures, the camera situation in garages remains the same.
Courtney Gilmartin, the UCF Police Department’s spokeswoman, said UCF PD is doing its best to increase security after the two recent incidents.
“UCF PD is increasing its patrol of garages and investigating the crimes,” she said. “We’ve also alerted the campus community to the burglaries and asked them to remain vigilant.”
In regards to security cameras, Gilmartin said UCF PD is always exploring new possibilities to keep campus safe.
“Adding more cameras to campus garages would come at a cost,” she said. “However, we regularly explore options that effectively and affordably support a safer campus.”
Regardless of what is done in the future, given the recent trend of auto thefts, it is advised that students and faculty remain alert and use common sense to keep themselves and their vehicles safe.
Common behavior of burglars can include checking door handles, looking inside car windows and standing out of sight while watching people enter or leave a vehicle.
“In this case, criminals are targeting wheels. UCF PD has asked for people on campus who see someone changing a tire to call us,” Gilmartin said. “If they are simply changing a tire, we will be happy to help. If the behavior seems criminal, we will take appropriate action.”
To report suspicious activity to UCF PD, students are encouraged to call 407-823-5555. Those witnessing a crime in action are advised to call 911 directly.
Martina Smith is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.