USC students, faculty demand answers after custodian arrested for grand theft

Students, faculty and staff at USC are asking for a formal investigation into the arrest of a beloved campus custodian. 

Faculty and students in the department of psychology released a letter Thursday demanding answers and asking for support after custodian Francisca Trigueros was arrested in March on allegations of felony grand theft. 

According to the department of psychology, Trigueros found a backpack containing a large amount of cash while cleaning a classroom on the 6th floor of the Seeley G. Mudd building.

Department officials say Trigueros attempted to locate a staff member who runs the lost and found area to turn in the backpack. However, she couldn’t locate a staff member and locked the backpack in her supply closet for safekeeping. In the meantime, the student who owned the backpack filed a report with USC’s Department of Public Safety.

According to the statement from the department, Trigueros was arrested on campus by LAPD officers five days later for grand theft, she was then transported to the 77th St. Regional Jail.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement that read in part, "USC Surveillance Operations checked and located surveillance footage that captured a crime. USC DPS completed a Grand Theft report, and the investigation was handed over to LAPD Southwest Area burglary detectives." Police sy the student who left her backpack in the classroom reported it missing to USC Department of Public Safety on March 11, just one day after she tried to retrieve it from the classroom. 

Department officials say prior to her arrest, no faculty or staff members were interviewed about the missing backpack. Trigueros was immediately suspended without pay.

"She has since been fired for her good faith effort to keep a student’s missing possessions safe," a statement from the department read.

Get your top stories delivered daily! Sign up for FOX 11’s Fast 5 newsletter. And, get breaking news alerts in the FOX 11 News app. Download for iOS or Android.

"Faculty, staff, and students in the Department of Psychology have entrusted Francisca with our offices and lab spaces (containing computers, technical equipment, data, and specimens that are critical to our scientific careers) for decades. Despite 24 years of service to the university, she has now lost her livelihood and is facing further legal complications due to a simple misunderstanding that could have been easily resolved with a five-minute conversation," the statement went on to say.

The department is now requesting a formal investigation into her on-campus arrest and termination. They are also asking the university to reinstate her employment and ask for protection for faculty, staff and students from wrongful on-campus arrests.

Trigueros is a longtime employee of Aramark and worked at the university for years. 

More than a hundred signatures have been collected in her support.

Tune in to FOX 11 Los Angeles for the latest Southern California news.