Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Monday, November 20, 2017

Public Safety requests tips on string of dorm thefts

At least four dorm room thefts of televisions, laptops and iPods occurred in one day in Anderson and Letts Halls.

On March 22 between 6:20 and 8:00 p.m., burglars entered four dorm rooms in Anderson and Letts, according to Director of Residence Life Rick Treter. Residents of three rooms in Letts and one in Anderson reported incidents of theft.

The victims reported that four laptops, an iPod, a television and a number of video games were stolen from their rooms, Treter said. Two students who share a room and had their laptops stolen claimed their door was locked — but not dead-bolted. The other victims had kept their doors unlocked.

In their weekly police report, the Department of Public Safety wrote that before the laptop was stolen from one victim’s room in Letts a resident in another room heard someone jiggle the door knob to her room twice. The second time she looked out her door and saw two males walking away.

Since Jan. 11 there have been 48 thefts and burglaries on campus, according to Public Safety Lt. Rima Sifri, the department’s Crime Prevention and Rape Aggression Defense coordinator. When a person enters a dorm room and steals from the room, it is considered a burglary, not a theft, Sifri said. But stealing something from a table in the library, for example, is considered a theft.

No suspects have been identified for the March 22 crimes but the Metropolitan Police Department is collaborating with Public Safety in the investigation. If the suspects are identified, they will face removal from AU housing.

“Stealing is taken very seriously and would most likely result in a disciplinary hearing,” Treter said. “Depending on the situation, Housing and Dining Programs would recommend the student, at a minimum, be removed from housing.”

Sifri advises students to lock up their belongings and keep their dorm room doors secured.

“Theft is a crime of opportunity, so if someone does not secure their items, then it is possible that they will be stolen,” Sifri said. “In many of the instances of theft on our campus the items were not secured by a locking device or the doors were left unsecured.”

Students should lock up their valuables, even if they are just going to the lounge on their floor, Treter said.

“When residents are leaving their rooms or going to the lounge, they should make sure to put their valuable items in a locked space or safe,” he said. “The bookstore sells cords that can attach to furniture. Many of these crimes involve taking items that are easy to grab. Making this more difficult may deter individuals.”

Treter also advises students to get insurance for their valuables. AU offers a Student Personal Property Plan, which is used at more than 1,600 colleges nationwide. This plan includes insurance for theft, fire, flood, vandalism, natural disasters and accidental damage, according to National Student Services.

Treter hopes that students who have information about the suspects in the March 22 thefts step forward.

“Some residents may have information about those that were involved,” he said. “As a supportive community, I would hope that residents would come forward to support their floormates and help to make their residence hall safe.”

You can reach this staff writer at nglass@theeagleonline.com.


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