By: Allie Gauthier—Print Editor-in-Chief
Students on the University of Dayton’s campus acknowledge they live in a bubble.
However, the amount of burglaries on campus has increased in recent years, according to the 2015 Campus Security Report and Fire Safety Report. From 21 in 2012 to 33 in 2013 and 77 in 2014. To seven burglaries in one night this September.
The total enrollment of full-time, part-time, graduate and law students has stayed consistently around 11,100, according to the UD Fact Book.
None of these burglaries have turned violent, but they continue to increase.
The Department of Public Safety has been keeping the UD community informed through a series of safety advisory emails. A laptop computer and personal items were stolen from an unattended backpack in Roesch Library on Sept. 24. On the morning of Oct. 14, a male student reported a burglary on Woodland Avenue. The suspect fled through the unlocked, rear door before UD Police officers apprehended him. Most recently, an aggravated burglary took place at Irving Commons. Three suspects forced their way into an apartment and took a small amount of cash and personal items. Initially, they were reported using possibly toy guns, with orange tips. There were no injuries.
On Sept. 28 at 12:03 p.m., the Department of Public Safety sent out another safety advisory email: “Seven burglaries occurred at student-occupied houses in the 300 and 400 blocks of Kiefaber Street, Lowes Street, and Stonemill Road, and in the 100 block of Lawnview Avenue during the early morning hours of September 27, 2015,” Public Safety reported in an email. “The student occupants reported small electronic items (video games, laptop computers, tablet computers, and headphones) and cash were taken from their residences…There were no signs of forced entry into any of the residences.”
“Before this happened, I haven’t locked my door since freshman year, and it’s never been an issue,” said Lauren Gunn, a victim of one of the burglaries on Kiefaber Street. “Just because this is a place where everyone should feel safe and trust one another, and we didn’t have any issues about it before that. … if this never happened, we would probably not lock our doors.”
“But now since we’ve been tested … we’re definitely much better about it now.” said Ellen Grochocinski, another resident of the 10-person house on Kiefaber.
Both Gunn and Grochocinski said they still felt safe on campus because no one was extremely threatened, though Gunn reported, “It was an invasion of privacy.”
“It freaked me out because I was sleeping on the couch in my section…the people walked past me and went into my bedroom and then grabbed my laptop and were just in my room,” Grochocinski said. “I found out a couple weeks later that they took my jewelry box, too.
“I mean, I’d say it’s a lot more safer because we had our landlord put in locks on our bedroom doors,” Grochocinski said. “Now we know if it’s in our bedroom there’s a lock and nobody’s getting into it.”
Gunn and Grochocinski’s house on Kiefaber also gets an unusual amount of traffic. They have roommates’ friends in the house as often as strangers asking to use the bathroom. Their big yard and balcony, which wraps around the front of the house, attracts a lot of attention on the weekends.
“We live in a high traffic area, so on the weekends, there’s always people just showing up here. Even in our front yard or our side yard. And sometimes will just help themselves up into our house to try and use the bathroom or something,” Gunn said. “But, like we said before, at least for me, I feel a lot better knowing my stuff is locked away and know that I don’t have to worry about it.”
“For a majority of the time, on weekends, there’s always people in and out of this house. It’s fun—I love it, but sometimes it’s stressful because I will get random freak outs like, who are you, why are you in my bedroom?” Grochocinski said. “Sometimes it’s one of my roommate’s friends and then it’s OK, but it starts to get to the point where it’s complete, total strangers none of us know.”
The roommates also noted more cops around their house the following week. However, this didn’t add to their feeling of safety on campus.
“[The police] never followed up with us once,” Grochocinski said.
UD Police is on duty 24 hours a day, patrol the student neighborhoods and encourage students to call immediately if they’ve been a victim of a crime. In an interview with Flyer News, UD Police Maj. Larry Dickey discussed the night of seven burglaries.
“There were, I think in every case, unlocked doors…They [the residents] come and go, and there’s multiple people living in the house, so they don’t worry about locking doors,” Dickey said. “Unfortunately, the society that we live in, late at night, some go around checking doors with the intent of stealing property.”
Dickey explained a lot of the stolen property is small electronics. They’re small, portable and valuable.
“In the past, [stolen electronics] have usually shown up in a pawn shop nearby,” Dickey said. “I guess it’s a sign of the times in a sense, in that even though it’s not new, they’re selling a lot of stuff on Craig’s List or EBay, wherever it gets shipped off by mail. There’s no tracking those systems, usually. So, technology makes it easy to be a criminal.”
According to Dickey, “State law requires that all the pawn shops register or keep a log of all the items they take in and who from and everything like that. And that’s all computerized, and our detective [Harry Sweigar] does a good job of checking through Dayton PD and all those logs from all those pawn shops.”
If students record the serial number on their electronics, the property can be tracked and potentially recovered if it ends up in a pawn shop.
“That’s one of the recommendations we would make, as far as crime prevention, that people note their serial numbers,” Dickey said.
While UD Police hasn’t recovered any property from the Sept. 28 burglaries, they have made arrests for separate occurrences.
“We have made—in September and October we have made five arrests,” Dickey confirmed. “We did arrest one gentleman twice, separate days, for separate burglaries that he committed. Took him downtown the first time, locked him up, subject to bond, got out. Two days later he’s doing another burglary in one of our houses, and we arrested him again.”
“That case is currently pending,” Dickey said. “So, that was at least two separate cases he was involved in. We suspect him in a couple of the others that were reported because they either happened on the same days, or in close proximity to time or location, but we can’t prove those, but we can prove two of them, – because there were witnesses who saw him. In one case our officer saw him trying to climb in a window, and that was enough to get the burglary charges.”
Dickey stresses the importance of locking doors and windows to keep students and their possession safe.
“Along with the doors are windows…Even though the window may be closed, it’s not locked,” Dickey said. “When the officers are checking the crime scene, the house where the problem was, they’ll find smudge marks first. It’s obviously someone who was trying to open the window from the outside.”
He encourages students to lock doors and windows, note the serial numbers on their electronics and be aware of people at the parties they’re hosting.
“Confront them and politely ask them to leave if they can’t provide a connection to anyone at UD,” Dickey said. “Politely—you don’t have to be indignant about it. And if they’re not willing to leave, that’s when you call us, and we’ll assist, and have them leave the property.”
Crime still happens inside the UD bubble.
“The only thing I can say is for people to learn from our lesson and see that it’s possible and that it can happen, wherever you are on campus,” Grochocinski said. “It can happen in the snap of a finger. UD is great and I love it with my whole heart, but we are not Disney World.”
Dial UD Pubic Safety at 9-2121 in an emergency and click here for crime prevention information.