The University of Connecticut Police Department sent out a news release yesterday morning informing students that they have received numerous reports of auto parts being stolen.
“Five incidents of catalytic converters [have been] reported stolen as of this time,” Deputy Police Chief Andrew Fournier said. “Investigators are still working to establish the timeframe, which is challenging because of the long duration that vehicles are often parked.”
The report said catalytic convertor components of the exhaust system, which can be removed from vehicles and sold, have been being stolen since the beginning of the semester.
“[We had] no problems over the summer,” Fournier said. “We’ve seen increased reports to police since the semester began.”
The incidents have been occurring at Hilltop Apartments, Northwood Apartments and South Campus Residence Halls, the report said.
One UConn student even posted a “PSA For Cars on Campus” on the Buy or Sell UConn Tickets Facebook page, saying her catalytic converter, and that of another student, had been stolen on Tuesday.
Last semester, there were several incidents in which the rims and tires were stolen from cars parked at Hilltop and Celeron apartments.
“We believe the areas are being targeted because of their location on the periphery of campus and that some of the back roads to campus lead to these lots,” Fournier said.
Fournier said it is currently unclear whether the two theft sprees are related.
“The UConn Police Department is dedicating resources to this continuing problem and will continue to work towards identifying those responsible,” the release said.
Fournier said UCPD will be increasing attention to the areas that are being targeted for these thefts.
“We are assigning officers [just for] checking the parking areas of campus for illegal activity in lieu of other routine assignments,” Fournier said.
The release also said UCPD has increased its patrols during the evening and overnight hours in the targeted areas.
The news release urges students to lock their vehicles and keep their keys on them, close their windows, not leave important documents or cards in the car, not leave valuables in sight, and to try to park in well-lit areas.
“Beyond what was mentioned in the news release, we always encourage students to be well-aware of their surroundings, and if anything looks suspicious or just not right, to please call us to investigate,” Fournier said. “No report to police is insignificant and sometimes [they] lead to good information to investigate.”
Anyone who has information related to this investigation is asked to call the UCPD at (860) 486-4800.