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Thief targets Columbia College basketball tryouts

Phones, bags among items stolen

Theft takes place Sunday at young girls basketball tryouts at Columbia College

COLUMBIA, Mo. - A St. Louis woman said her teenage daughter was at Columbia College Sunday for basketball tryouts when a man stole items while her daughter was trying out for the Missouri Phenom. 

Tiffany Sparks said her daughter was among others to set their belongings down on bleachers when a man allegedly stole cellphones, backpacks and wallets.

"You just can't have random people coming in and rummaging through bags," Sparks said. 

Tryouts did not start until 1 p.m, but the man had to have stolen the girls' belongings around 12:30 p.m. because her daughter's gift card Visa was used at Phillip 66 at 12:43 p.m., according to Sparks. 

"You just feel violated," Sparks said. "I feel so victimized right now."

Columbia College spokesman Sam Fleury said school officials are aware of the situation and are working with law enforcement.

"We have campus safety officers on campus 24 hours a day and seven days a week patrolling campus," Fluery said. "The safety and security of our students, faculty, staff and visitors is our top priority at all times."

It is unclear if campus security guards were inside the Southwell gym area when the items were stolen.

Sparks said she filed a police report with the Columbia Police Department. 

"A parent reached out to me and said they have video," Sparks said. "I am waiting on the video of him sitting there just going through some of the bags. He's on film."

Fleury said the statement was all the college can provide because the incident is under investigation.

A Kansas City woman said her daughter's items were also stolen, and she has filed a report with the police department as well. However, iRepair in Columbia was able to retrieve her daughter's phone. 

ABC 17 News contacted CPD and has made a request to see the incident report.


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