Provo police urge residents to ‘lock those doors’ after a series of car break-ins

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There was not much to see by the dim, fluorescent light of the Liberty Square underground parking garage as Justin Peeples made his way home at 2:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, Nov. 27.

The garage was empty except for rows and rows of residents’ vehicles — and just one other person. A man, lingering by a car but never getting in.

Peeples, a UVU computer science major who had heard about recent break-ins in the parking lot, ducked behind a car to see if the man was one of the trespassers he had been hearing about. 

He watched silently as the man went from car to car, attempting to open the driver and passenger side doors. The man checked the doors of five cars before Peeples sprung from his hiding spot.

“Hey boy, you’d better get out of here,” Peeples shouted. He proceeded to chase the man down for two blocks before letting him go, and immediately reported the incident to the police. 

Warning signs are posted at the entrance to the Liberty Square underground parking lot. Police said the best way to prevent a break-in is to make sure car doors are locked. (Kaylyn Wolf)

Sgt. Nick Dupaix, the public information officer for the Provo Police Department, said that unfortunately, this is not uncommon at Provo apartment complexes.

“The really difficult thing about vehicle burglaries at complexes like Liberty Square is that they have a lot of underground parts that cannot be widely seen,” Dupaix said.

According to Cody Dyer, a BYU biology major, a series of break-ins occurred in the underground parking lot of Liberty Square last week.

Dyer said he walked down to the parking garage after a week away for Thanksgiving to find his Subaru Outback’s door ajar, dashboard “thrown open” and the battery dead. 

The vehicles of residents who park in Liberty Square’s underground parking lot. According to Provo Police, the risk of vehicle burglary is higher in underground parking structures since they are not easily seen by those who pass by. (Kaylyn Wolf)

“I guess they gave up, because I had a few bucks in the center console,” Dyer said. “They were throwing doors open, but not really taking anything and it was only unlocked cars.”

According to Dupaix, the best thing to do is deter burglars by preventing easy access to cars: if they have to smash a window to get in, they are more likely to not try. 

“Essentially what they’re doing is looking for any vehicles that are left unlocked. They’re looking for items that they can pawn,” Dupaix said.

Samuel Bergeson, a BYU freshman who lives at Liberty Square, had a similar experience to Dyer. 

Bergeson had been working on his 1980 Volkswagen Rabbit in the underground parking lot, trying to get it to run. He said when he discovered the break-in, his car door was cracked but like Dyer, nothing was stolen. 

“I was very lucky; I had a lot of tools in there. There was a nice stereo and some speakers still in the box, but I don’t think they stole anything,” Bergeson said.

Dupaix left just one piece of advice for residents of Provo apartment complexes who want to keep their cars and belongings safe: “lock those doors”. 

“If you have your vehicle locked, the chances of your car getting burglarized go way, way down,” Dupaix said. 

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