After seeing the public safety advisory sent out by University Police two weeks ago, Linda Macias, a counseling and guidance graduate student, said she feels unsafe when parking on the Brownsville campus.
“I don’t feel safe because there is a risk of my car being, you know, vandalized or [broken into],” Macias said.
The Jan. 17 advisory stated there were three break-ins on the Brownsville campus. One of the vehicles belonged to the university and two to faculty members.
These incidents happened in the late hours of Jan. 16 and 17 in parking Lots A1 and B2.
“Those incidents, actually, causes us to be a little more vigilant and have a little bit more patrols out there and also putting out the word,” said Raul Munguia, UT Rio Grande Valley police chief.
When a faculty member returned to his car about 1:30 a.m. Jan. 16 he discovered the driver’s window was broken. Items were missing and no other nearby vehicle was broken into, according to an offense report summary sent to The Rider.
At 12:29 a.m. Jan. 17, an officer on patrol spotted a university vehicle with its left window broken and compartments opened. Ten minutes later, he saw a faculty vehicle that was burglarized.
Because the investigation is still ongoing, no further details were released, Munguia said.
The last break-ins on the Brownsville campus occurred in late October in a Texas Southmost College parking lot, which is frequently used by the UTRGV campus community.
Since these six incidents, University Police has started to work with a new security agency the college hired to monitor its facilities, the chief said.
“The communications between TSC security and our department has increased substantially,” Munguia said. “Also, our patrols are extended over there to the TSC campus. As far as where it is we have leased space [from TSC], our officers are patrolling those particular areas.”
Officers are not the only ones keeping an eye on parking lots. The police department on the Edinburg campus has help from security cameras on the lots andthe footage is reviewed for the cases, the chief said.
“We do monitor them,” he said. “However, those are primarily recording cameras. If something occurs, we can go back and look at it. We don’t have the personnel to sit there and personally watch the cameras all day long.”
Although University Police patrol the Brownsville campus, the department is looking into getting security cameras for the campus.
“Here in Brownsville, there were some cameras installed. We also have cameras on the border fence,” Munguia said. “So, we did have a few cameras [but] nowhere near to the extent that they exist in Edin-
burg. However, for both campuses, we’re still looking at increases in cameras.”
University Police is also getting involved in the construction of the new buildings on the Brownsville campus.
“We already have a seat at the table, you know, when they are going over the security needs for the new building,” he said. “That’s where we’re going to be looking at the cameras, you know, camera placements within the buildings.”
University Police recommends the campus community keep an eye out for any suspicious activity in the area, to secure valuables in the vehicle trunk, lock all vehicle doors and always be aware of your surroundings.
“The message here: If anyone sees anything that doesn’t look right to them, that looks suspicious, just be safe and call us,” Munguia said.
Macias said the university should have more patrols.
“I see one car, security, roaming the area but maybe having more patrols on campus will make me feel very safe,” she said.
To report suspicious activity on the campuses, call University Police at 882-8232 in Brownsville and Harlingen and 665-7151 in Edinburg.