Twelve more cars vandalized and Brett Levinson Undercover University Police officers apprehended a male suspect breaking into several vehicles in the University parking garage at 38th and Spruce streets at about 9:20 p.m. last night. Between 1 a.m. and 9 a.m. yesterday, police found 12 more cars with smashed windows. In the past two weeks, a total of 35 cars have been broken into at the parking garage at 38th and Spruce streets. University Police Sgt. Tom Rambo speculated that the apprehended suspect might be singularly responsible for the break-ins. In a related incident yesterday, three juveniles were arrested near the parking garage at 38th and Spruce streets at about noon after attempting to break into a vehicle parked on the street, University Police Chief George Clisby said. A cellular phone was recovered from one of the juveniles, who were later transported to Southwest Detectives. And eight additional cars parked on the street were broken into yesterday. The arrests yesterday come on the heels of stepped-up police patrols to combat the recent rash of automobile vandalism. Rambo said valuables had been taken from the cars last night, but declined to further comment on specifics since an investigation is ongoing. The male suspect apprehended last night was transported to Southwest Detectives for booking. University detectives discovered a broken spark plug and an electronic garage passcard on the suspect. Spark plugs are used by criminals to smash car windows because they are constructed of hard porcelain and are easy to conceal. According to Rambo, the spark plug is thrown into the window to gain entry. While conducting a surveillance of the garage, plain clothes police officers noticed a suspicious person on the third floor and apprehended him. At least seven officers were on the scene. Uniformed police officers surrounded all garage exits to block any possible means of escape, Rambo said. Clisby said that dealing with the dramatic increase in car break-ins is a "top priority." He added that he has asked Philadelphia Police officers from the 18th District to assist in a heightened effort to patrol the streets. Clisby said University Police is now routinely checking the parking garages at least once an hour. And Allied Security guards are also patrolling the garages more frequently, Seamon said. He also said that bike and foot patrols seem to be the most effective way to combat the rash in break-ins. "We are committed to solving the problem," Clisby said. "Officers want to see an end to it." After analyzing the problem statistically, the lots rented out on a long-term basis were found to be targeted the most, Clisby said. Four lots have been singled out as the ones hit the most, he added. The University-owned parking garages at 38th and Spruce streets, 34th and Chestnut streets, 32nd and Walnut streets and Convention Avenue and South streets will receive extra patrolling. In addition to this measure, police have conducted outreach programs at these lots. Public Safety officials are also handing out flyers to individuals parking in the garages, urging them to secure possessions and answering general questions. Clisby suggested that vehicles parked in the long-term garages be periodically checked for damages. Doing this will also increase the traffic in the garage and hopefully deter criminals from entering, he said. Clisby said University Police, Transportation and Parking and Allied Security officials are looking to high-tech methods of fighting crime. Closed-circuit televisions and other forms of electronic security are being considered.Comments powered by Disqus
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