Fairfield University Townhouses see rise in thefts

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Two weekends back on campus and Townhouses thefts have already surpassed those of the entire Fall 2012 semester.

Electronics are the main target, with iPhones, video game systems and laptops being the most frequently taken items.

According to Department of Public Safety reports, many of the thefts occurred during gatherings where Townhouses residents invited in possible culprits. Smartphones were most commonly stolen from unattended coat pockets in these instances.

A lot of the recent crime spike, however, comes in the form of trespassing unlocked townhouses while the residents are away or upstairs.

Residents in St. Gabriel Lalement (7 block) came downstairs to find two white males (one wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt) and one black male wearing a black hooded sweatshirt attempting to take their DVD player. The suspects fled with an iPhone.

All of the burglaries and thefts have occurred between about 11:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

One townhouse was robbed of an Xbox with its controllers, a PS3 with its controllers (kept in the living room) and a laptop (kept in a bedroom) while the house’s residents went to the beach for a few hours. The victims realized the items missing the next morning.

“We’re starting to get a little paranoid,” said Gareth Rulewski ’14 who lives just a few houses away from that most recent burglary. Rulewski did not think much of the trend at first, saying, “I thought it was some drunk kid who wanted a souvenir,” but now, “… I think we’re going to start locking doors during the day while we’re home.”

All of the incident reports vary to some degree. In one, someone witnessed a failed bicycle theft attempt from a townhouse porch.

There were even a couple cases where residents heard people downstairs in their living rooms, thought the noise was from a roommate and woke the next morning to find that they had been robbed.

Townhouses residents have received two emails in the past two weeks from their Area Coordinator, Niquita Dietrich, detailing recommended prevention and response to the thefts. “Take the time to lock your doors even if you have a roommate in the house, especially if your roommate is upstairs or in the bathroom,” says the first email. It continues, “Do not allow guests into your house that you do not know or do not trust.”

The frequency of Townhouses thefts and burglaries last semester was significantly less, but the nature of the crimes was the same then.

On a Saturday night in December, one house on Matteo Ricci (14 block) had two residents sleeping upstairs when a burglary occurred. Three MacBook Pros and two pairs of Beats headphones were taken from their living room. Those victims believe they locked their front door but not the back.

Both DPS and Fairfield Police still have that case open with no suspects identified.

“I talk to people all the time who say, ‘yeah, my roommate lost his key so we haven’t locked our doors in three months.’ … Some people are definitely heeding the warning but definitely not all – these are things that we notice during health and safety inspections.” Assistant Director of DPS, John Ritchie, told The Mirror.

A Public Safety alert was posted around the townhouse complex on Dec. 4th, right after that burglary.

Junior Hillary Maxson is among those taking the threat seriously. “All of my housemates thought I was crazy when I hid my wallet and Macbook when we had people over one night … that weekend the laptops were reported stolen – and look who was the only one prepared! You can’t trust anyone.”

Residence Life will be distributing pink pieces of paper reminding residents to lock their doors in this week’s health and safety inspections for the Townhouses and Dolan Hall, according to Emily Sawyer ’14, an RA for the area.

“Not only do you owe it to yourself, you owe it to your guests,” said Associate Director of DPS Frank Ficko about being mindful of suspicious persons. Ficko added that DPS will be stepping up patrols, but reiterated what he and ResLife have both advocated: better townhouse responsibility. “If you see something, say something, do something.”

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