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Is there a serial burglar at the Flats?

Hayley Simonson, Police Reporter

The Flats have continued to be the target of mysterious burglaries and the culprits have yet to be caught. This begs the question: Is UNF dealing with a serial burglar? 

We are not sure if the perpetrator is the same person or not. However, based upon the frequency and manner in which the crimes occurred, we are leaning in the direction of it being the same person(s),” UNF Director of Police and Public Safety Chief Mackesy said.   

On Oct. 10, 2020, UPD was dispatched to the Flats after a potential suspect entered an occupied apartment in the early morning hours through an unlocked door. The suspect walked a few feet into the apartment and took a purse that was located on a shelf by the door. The owner of the purse was out visiting friends. When they came back, they noticed the purse missing. The other residents of the apartment were sure that they saw the purse before going to bed. They did not notice any disturbances. The purse was located in a bush at the front of the property, and while everything was still inside, six dollars were missing.

The same day another burglary was reported. The victim came back to the apartment, which was unlocked and noticed that the roommate’s bedroom door was ajar, but did not suspect anything peculiar. The victim continued to their room and went on with their typical day. The resident had received some emails about recent Flats burglaries. It then came to their attention that a bag was out of place in the closet and personal items were missing such as cords, an Xbox, Apple Macbook Air, and an unused Samsung television. The victim believes the burglary occurred in the early morning hours.

A third incident occurred on the same day. The roommates of this apartment were up playing video games in the early morning hours. One of the victims stated that before they went to sleep, it was known that the door was unlocked, but the resident was tired and decided to just go to bed. The resident woke up and left to work in the morning and did not realize that anything was stolen, but returned back to the apartment when the roommates notified the victim that they had been burglarized. One of the roommates stated that a jewelry box containing jewelry and a purse that had last been seen on the living room couch was taken. A wallet, car keys, student ID, Florida Drivers License, and debit card were also taken along with a Playstation 4. 

As an investigation on the missing items was being conducted, the officer on scene was notified that some of the victim’s items had been found outside. There was a black and green purse on the ground and in the bushes. One of the victims identified the stolen items. The student found the UNF ID, but the debit card and driver’s license were still missing. Vehicle keys that were also missing were found in an unlocked vehicle where nothing had been taken.

In all these situations, there were no signs of forced entry and the suspects entered through unlocked doors. Could automatic locks be a solution to those that may simply forget to lock up?

“I do think doors that close and lock whenever someone comes and goes is a better option, However, in some of our cases the doors were propped open. Simply closing and locking a door is one of the most effective crime prevention techniques. This applies to a home or vehicle door,” according to Mackesy. “I do not think it is appropriate to blame the victim for the burglaries that occurred.  I feel certain that if they thought a person would enter their apartment, while they were asleep, they most likely would lock their doors.”

UNF residents must remember to take extra precaution to keep their doors locked to avoid future potential burglaries.

___

For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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