Cafaro Car Theft

By Kelcey Norris

Penguin Alerts notified the campus community of an armed robbery across from Cafaro House in the M90 parking lot on Elm Street. Two suspects took a male student’s possessions and vehicle at gunpoint. The investigation and search for the vehicle is ongoing. 

Youngstown State University police chief Shawn Varso said the carjacking took place shortly before midnight Saturday as the resident returned to the residence hall. 

“One of the individuals produced a gun, asked him to hand over his money and whatever article he had. They took his car keys, got into the car and took off out of the lot,” Varso said. 

The vehicle then headed south before entering the Eastbound Service Road.  

“Right now we’re trying to find the vehicle — it was entered stolen. [Youngstown Police Department] advised all its units to be on the lookout for it. We’re actively searching for the vehicle right now,” Varso said. 

Descriptions of the suspects and the stolen vehicle were sent to YSU students and staff. Luckily, the student was not injured in the carjacking. 

“They were wearing masks, hoodies, and the student was unhurt. I spoke to him this morning and let him know he did what he should have done. He didn’t try to argue or fight with them. I gave him credit for his actions that night,” Varso said.  

In a follow-up crime prevention email to students, the police department advised the community to not leave personal items or valuable electronics unattended in cars, dorms or apartments. 

“If you are returning from somewhere at night, be aware of your surroundings. Don’t take it for granted. If someone is sitting there in their car, don’t assume they’re college students,” Varso said. “Just be wary, especially at that time of night, of people who are around you. The lot was well-lit, but sometimes that doesn’t even deter a person from doing something like this.”

Varso said his officers strive to provide safety and prevent major criminal acts like this from happening on campus. 

“It’s been quite a few years since we’ve had a robbery of this magnitude that happened on campus, but even if we have one of them, that’s one too many. I take it to heart when a situation like this happens. I don’t want any of our students in any danger,” he said. 

A second Penguin Alert for the weekend came the next day, describing an unrelated incident where two detainees escaped from the Juvenile Justice Center (JJC). 

“The JJC is actually located on Scott Street down below Wick Avenue, below Ursuline High School, so it is very close to campus,” Varso said. “Two of the individuals walked away from the center, I don’t know how they got out … In the interest of safety, we put that alert out to the campus community to make sure people were aware that these individuals did walk away.” 

As of Monday morning, one of the escapees was found and taken into custody again. The detainees’ escape from the JJC was not related to the car theft at Cafaro.