Graduate Student Helps UTPD Crack Large Theft Case

Thanks to the help of an observant and courageous graduate student, the UT Police Department has recovered more than $100,000 in property stolen from campus buildings over the past several months.

UTPD Chief Troy Lane and Joy Buongiorno, a graduate research assistant in microbiology.

UTPD Chief Troy Lane and Joy Buongiorno, a graduate research assistant in microbiology.

On Friday, May 6, Joy Buongiorno, a graduate research assistant in microbiology, led police directly to their suspect.

Yibo “David” Hwang, who is twenty, was charged Friday, May 6. He faces fourteen criminal charges, including nine counts of felony theft. Hwang, of Nashville, is a UT freshman majoring in computer engineering.

Buongiorno called UTPD at 12:28 p.m. Friday after seeing a male who fit the description of a person who may have stolen items from the Science Engineering and Research Building a week prior. She stayed on the phone with police and followed the suspect on foot until police arrived near Perkins Hall.

Soon thereafter UTPD found more than 100 items in Hwang’s room in Reese Hall. The items have been linked to twelve open theft reports that were made to UTPD in recent months. The items are laptops, hard drives, cameras, microphones, wireless access points, microscope lens objectives and other laboratory equipment, and a variety of electronics.

Hwang allegedly took university property and individuals’ property. The investigation is ongoing, and additional charges are likely as investigators track items back to owners and past reports of theft and missing UT inventory.

On Monday, UTPD Chief Troy Lane presented Buongiorno with a citation and the department’s challenge coin as a small token of appreciation.

“The men and women of the UT Police Department offer you our sincerest thanks and wish you success in your future. Thank you for demonstrating the true Volunteer spirit,” Lane stated in a letter to Buongiorno.

Lane said the case is a perfect example of why UTPD consistently urges students, faculty, and staff to report even the smallest things that seem suspicious or out of place.

CONTACT:

Karen Simsen (865-974-5186, karen.simsen@tennessee.edu)