PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - The Palm Beach Gardens campus of Palm Beach State College is being targeted by car thieve and vehicle vandals, according to authorities. Investigators are looking for the person - or people - breaking into multiple vehicles while students are busy in the classroom.
In the east parking lot of campus, student Chris Leighton received the surprise of his life. "When I walked out around two to put my phone on my car charger, I couldn't find my car," he said of the Monday afternoon incident.
Police say Leighton's 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee was one of two vehicles stolen from the same campus parking lot this week. A half dozen other cars have been vandalized, according to investigators.
"I don't have the nicest car in the world," said Leighton. "Who would steal an old beat up car like mine?"
School security guards are teaming up with Palm Beach Gardens police with increased patrols on and around the campus, which is located off of PGA Boulevard. The school is in the process of increasing other safeguards on campus.
"We're looking at installing video cameras at all entrances and exits and at high traffic areas," said Dr. Grace Truman, Director of College Relations and Marketing.
For Leighton, there was some good news. Authorities found his vehicle on a road in West Palm Beach. He said the exterior of the vehicle was intact, but there was damage to the ignition and drive shaft which will cost hundreds of dollars to repair.
"I don't think it's anybody's fault except the people who steal it," he said.
Students and staff are reminded to always lock up their vehicles and to hide any valuables. Police said they were making progress in their investigation, but had yet to make any arrests.