Police at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs are searching for a man who they say broke into three vehicles parked in campus lots earlier this week, with the intent of stealing them.
A witness took a photo of the man, described as white or Hispanic, with a shaved head and glasses. He was driving a white, mid-2000s Ford pickup, likely a F350 or F450, with rear-end damage and tow equipment.
On Monday, between 6:30 a.m. and noon, the man smashed a window in one vehicle to gain access, and removed the ignition assembly from two others, police said.
In two of the three cases, the vehicle’s steering column had been broken open, in an apparent attempt to operate the vehicle without a key, according to police.
The vehicles were parked in two different lots, on the central campus on Austin Bluffs Parkway and the north campus off North Nevada Avenue.
A witness who confronted the suspect at one of the vehicles told police the man said he was repossessing the vehicle, but he left the area soon after without taking the vehicle.
Motor-vehicle thefts and attempted thefts aren't common but do happen on campus. According to UCCS annual reports, there was one case last year, two in 2018 and six in 2017.
College and university campuses are often targets because there is a high density of vehicles, said UCCS spokesman Jared Verner.
"Our messaging to employees and students is focused on making sure to take any valuables with them, or make sure they’re out of sight, and make sure vehicles are locked," he said. "A lot of times, a person will just go down a row of cars checking to see if it’s locked or unlocked, and if it’s unlocked, then they’ll go through the car."
Security cameras in the parking garage used by students living in dorms are monitored by UCCS Police dispatch, Verner added.
UCCS Police asks anyone with information to call Detective Cpl. Martin Toetz at 255-3111 or go to the public safety office on campus.