UT Police at Houston arrested two suspects believed to have been involved in an attempted motor vehicle theft on Dec. 4, 2019, and two motor vehicle thefts on Dec. 16, 2019, and Jan. 13, 2020.
The arrests were made on Jan. 17 after UT Police Officer Philip Nguyen spotted the suspects in a car matching the description of the one identified in the crimes.
“Our Investigation Services Team was able to identify the suspects’ car by reviewing video surveillance footage from the parking garage,” said Inspector Covell Johnson. “We found the car to be a white Chevy Camaro with unique decals on the back bumper. It was only a matter of time before we would track it down.”
Just four days after the January theft, a white Camaro bearing the circular bumper decals matching the suspect vehicle entered the garage.
Officer Nguyen was at the garage conducting surveillance as part of the Patrol Operation Plan put in place to catch the Auto thieves and recognized the suspect vehicle.
Both the driver and the passenger were arrested for Unlawful Use of Criminal Instrument, because they were in possession of a device used to steal vehicles. The driver was also arrested for operating the vehicle displaying a fictitious license plate and the passenger was also arrested for an outstanding parole violation warrant. The investigation is continuing and additional charges for the vehicle theft may be added.
The thefts sparked unease among some employees who park at the 1MC parking garage. As a result, UT Police hosted a Safety Forum on Jan. 31 to update employees on the arrests and allow the audience to express any concerns directly to UT Police.
Bill Donovan, manager of Parking and Transportation, also was present to provide updates on changes coming to 1MC parking.
Assistant Chief of Police Paul Cross addressed the audience during the Safety Forum and said the isolated incidents were not a trend.
“Crime in Houston can be pretty scary,” said Cross, “but you should know that you are safer here than you are in many other places.”
The stolen vehicles were a black 2016 Chevy Silverado and a black 2017 Chevy Silverado, which are makes and models consistently listed as top stolen vehicles in the Houston area. The trucks have not yet been recovered.
“Criminals strike where they know people will be staying for a long time,” said Johnson. “What makes it more appealing is there are a lot of newer, nicer cars in our garages.”
The community is asked to remain on the lookout for suspicious people, vehicles and activity in the 1MC garage and to contact UT Police immediately at (713) 792-2890 if something seems out of the ordinary. Remember, if it doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.
Notifications of these crimes were shared in compliance with the Department of Education’s Jeanne Clery Act, which requires UT Police to notify the community when an event threatens campus safety. Timely Warnings were distributed on Dec. 4, 2019, Dec. 19, 2019 and Jan. 14, 2020 before the suspects were apprehended and a Crime Alert Update was issued on Jan. 17, 2020.