by Gregory Hill

A rash of nine burglaries has swept through student residences since winter break, leaving students uneasy about the safety of their residences.

Last Thursday, Katie Casale ’06 left for the library around 7:20 p.m. Her housemates returned at 7:55 p.m. The townhouse was only vacant for 35 minutes.

Upon returning, her housemates noticed a cold draft in the townhouse but thought nothing of it. At midnight, Katie Tracia ’06 returned from the library to find her and Casale’s laptops stolen, as well as Casale’s wallet. They called Casale who was at the library.

“I almost had a heart-attack,” Casale said after hearing of the burglary.

According to Casale, her father was contacted by a man who found her wallet with a business card in it on a street in Bridgeport.

The burglar had entered through the rear window.

“We are finding that students are still not locking their doors and windows,” said Todd Pelazza, director of Public Safety.

On Friday, Public Safety performed a door-to-door search of all student townhouses to check for unlocked doors and windows.

If a house was left vulnerable to any burglary activity, Public Safety taped a yellow sheet of paper on the door stating, “Your townhouse could have been burglarized” in hope to prevent future burglaries.

The searches are part of a campus wide alert led by Public Safety. They have also increased the number of patrols in the townhouse area.

“Our door opened in the middle of the night on Friday and Public Safety came in to make sure everything was okay,” said Katie Doherty ’05, whose townhouse was burglarized and DVDs were stolen.

“At 6 a.m. I woke up to them yelling ‘Public Safety, anyone home?” she added. “I told them the door flies open and they checked the house for me.”

On Tuesday, campus operations visited every townhouse and gave residents a dowel to make sure the windows remain closed.

Katie Quell ’05, Doherty’s housemate, said their townhouse received a dowel for the window and maintenance fixed the door that flew open during the night.

She feels safe now that it is all fixed.

“It’s another step you can take to make sure the window remains closed,” said Pelazza in regards to the dowels. “It is a misconception that if you slide the window shut it locks automatically.”

Doherty, who is a townhouse manager, said she has noticed Public Safety working harder to ensure safety on campus.

“When a townhouse manager is on duty, we have a walkie-talkie that allows us to hear all the conversations going on between Public Safety officers,” Doherty said, “and if they need us, they’ll let us know over the radio.”

“Last weekend, I was on duty and I could tell that Public Safety was doing a thorough job of checking any suspicious people and cars” she added. “They even checked out a house with a broken screen.”

According to Pelazza, the windows are equipped with locks and it is necessary to use the lock for the windows to remain closed.

“All the burglaries have occurred through unlocked doors and windows,” he said. “Take the extra step and ensure that the doors and windows are locked even if you are leaving for a short period of time.”

Public Safety and Fairfield Police are still investigating the burglaries.

Be sure to call Public Safety with any information regarding the burglaries at extension 4090.

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