USCPD is patrolling garages and lots and monitoring surveillance cameras to secure vehicles that were left on campus after COVID-19 closures.
Some students left their cars in campus parking lots and garages when they left for spring break because they did not anticipate being home for the rest of the semester.
Now that some students are unable to return to campus to retrieve their cars, USCPD is working to keep watch over the vehicles that are left.
“So far, we have had no incidences of auto-tampering during the COVID event and our goal is to try and keep it that way,” USCPD deputy chief of police Scott Prill said in an email interview.
Prill said the university's garages and surface lots are 5% to 10% full, a number that he said is expected to decrease as students come to reclaim their vehicles since the campus is officially closed through August.
Amanda Abdow, a second-year biology student, was one of the students who initially left her car on campus. She later flew back to Columbia to get it.
"I was very worried having my car on campus because I knew there wouldn't be a lot of cars on campus and the chance of my car being stolen was higher with the news of school being closed was widely publicized," Abdow said in an email interview.
Abdow is from Bethesda, Maryland, so it took her seven and a half hours to drive home.
"Even though I have left my car on campus before for breaks, I thought it was important I got my car this time. In the end I was very glad I did go get my car because the usually packed Greek village lot had roughly a dozen cars left in it," Abdow said.
According to Prill, with students off-campus, most of the officers’ time is spent patrolling the area.
“That includes doing continuous walkthroughs of campus buildings and patrolling area garages/surface lots,” Prill said.
Besides patrolling campus, officers have virtual means of watching out for students’ property.
“We also have cameras in our garages so we’re able to virtually look at those areas as well to make sure that, you know, we don’t see anything suspicious,” USCPD captain Eric Grabski said.
Prill added that they do these “virtual patrols” from their communications center. He said there are cameras in most of the lots and garages.
“We have had some parents call and ask us to do additional checks of vehicles, which we have done,” Prill said.
Additionally, Prill added that they have even sent pictures to parents to show them the car was safe.
Even though students are not currently on campus, Grabski said they can still reach out to USCPD by calling (803) 777-4215.
“Obviously we're still available if students have questions about their safety and security or the safety and security of, you know, their possessions,” Grabski said. “If there's a specific concern that a student has, that's a safety-related concern, don't hesitate in getting in contact with us so that we can check that out.”