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Published on February 7th, 2017 | by Zachary Smith


Florida Southern has Theft Scare

Florida Southern College has been under serious watch as several thefts have occurred on campus over the past few months.

Director of campus safety and security Bill Carew said in a statement that FSC students and faculty had reported several stolen laptops over the last few months from unlocked rooms. Carew said a middle-aged black male had been seen in the particular areas where items were reported stolen.

The FSC campus safety and security staff managed to track down the suspect and get his photograph. The picture was posted in numerous buildings, staff offices and food service locations around campus to serve as a warning for students and faculty to be on the lookout.

However, Carew said the campus safety staff was not allowed to detain the suspect. Therefore, the suspect would always escape before the Lakeland Police Department could arrive.

On Jan. 27, the suspect struck again. This time, student success specialist Louise Johnson was the victim.

Johnson said she left her office to run a quick errand and left her office door ajar. The suspect then snuck into her office and stole her wallet right from her desk and escaped. Security video footage from the courtyard outside of the Rogers Building revealed the suspect entering and leaving the building with an item he was attempting to hide.

Johnson said she did not initially notice the wallet was missing. On the contrary, Johnson was so surprised by the theft that she initially believed that she had misplaced her wallet. However, after noticing other valuables in her office had not gone missing, she concluded the wallet had to have been stolen.


Johnson said the suspect snuck into her office (above) at an opportune time while she was busy with Scholar’s Weekend activities.

Johnson called safety and filed a report with the LPD, which was followed up by a report filed by the college’s campus safety and security office.

A mere $13 was stolen as well as Johnson’s credit cards and driver’s license. Johnson said she was thankful not much was lost.

“I do tend to be a lemonade out of lemons person in these situations. I’m grateful I didn’t have much money in my wallet,” said Johnson. “It’s also a good reminder that even though we live in a safe community, and certainly the college community is even more insulated, you always should be smart and cautious about what you do.”

Johnson also said she is very relived to know that these thefts have not been at the hands of a student or faculty member.

“I am grateful that that it wasn’t a student or staff member. If you can find the silver lining, to me that is the silver lining,” said Johnson. “At the end of the day, there is no harm done. It was aggravating cancelling credit cards and driver’s licenses, but in the grand scope of things, I was thankful it was a very minor crime.”

The suspect is no stranger to theft. Carew said the suspect had a record of approximately 21 counts of burglary and theft.

Fortunately, he was spotted near the Terrace Café on Jan. 30 and was captured later that evening by FSC campus and security.

The LPD issued a trespass warning to the suspect. If he is spotted on any FSC property, then he will be arrested and taken to the Polk County Jail.

Although the problem appears to be fixed, Carew said the suspsect was not physically seen with any of the stolen items mentioned. In turn, Carew said the suspect was unable to be charged with any of the campus thefts.

On-campus theft appears to be a growing concern at FSC. Although the amount of burglaries fell from four to two between 2013 and 2014, FSC crime statistics revealed seven on-campus burglaries occurred in 2015.

On-campus theft across the nation is an issue. In fact, theft appears to be a fairly common occurrence in residence halls nationwide. Between the years of 2010 and 2012, over 30,000 reports of robbery and burglary in residence halls surfaced.

Although college crime has decreased over the last decade, there are often robberies and burglaries that go unseen because they are not reported to authorities. This decrease in college crime also does not undermine the most recent thefts on campus.

On-campus motor vehicle theft has also been of slight concern. After no reports of motor vehicle thefts in 2013 or 2014, FSC had two thefts in 2015 and several in 2017.

The most recent break-ins occurred in January. On Jan. 10, multiple FSC students had their vehicles broken into on Harvard Road behind Dell/Miller/Hollis.

Students and faculty are now trying to take more precautionary measures to ensure they are less susceptible to campus theft.

Miller Hall resident advisor Mark Iannuzzi has encouraged his residents and fellow students to do the little things in order to help prevent future thefts and break-ins.

“The big thing that I would recommend to residents is to first of all immediately call safety,” Iannuzzi said. “Second of all, when you’re not in your room, keep your door locked. When you’re sleeping, keep your door locked just as a precaution. Keep yourself safe and your stuff safe.”

The college is also working to ensure future thefts are less likely to occur.

Carew said in an email sent out to all students and faculty that the college is working to improve future theft prevention efforts with the installation of additional cameras for improved security coverage, increased patrol efforts and enhanced lighting coverage.

The LPD is also doing its part to help prevent future theft. The LPD will be set up in breezeway area by the campus bookstore on Feb. 8 to provide information to students and faculty regarding vehicle safety and burglary prevention.


Read: 10 Tips to Combat Theft on Campus

Read: College Campuses with the Most Reported Robberies

Read: Multiple Bikes Stolen off of Florida Southern Property

Read: College Students Face High Risk of Identity Theft



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