Burglary strikes at students’ front doors

Kim, Doris

The Lawrence University campus has already had an unusual amount of theft this year, but recent incidents have escalated campus security concerns considerably. These occurrences are attracting much more notice from campus administration and the Appleton police than others committed earlier this year because of the more suspicious and threatening nature of the thefts. Not only were the thefts individually alarming, they occurred in a short span of three weeks. To both the surprise and dismay of the community, Lawrence reported four apparent break-ins and filed three reports of larceny.
“In my eight years here, this year has definitely had the highest quantity of theft incidents,” said Nancy Truesdell, dean of students.
In the first recent theft, Sage Hall lost cash, DVD players, several DVDs and VHS tapes, laundry tokens, and stamps. Many episodes of stealing this year have occurred because of students leaving belongings in public areas, but this theft resulted from forced entry. However, the person who broke in did not leave things out of place or make it seem obvious that someone had broken in. It was unknown that any theft had taken place until a desk clerk on duty realized the cash box was missing. Upon investigation, it was estimated that the total amount of damages was $700.
“It was the very first incident of theft all year,” said Sage’s residence hall director, Stacey Scott. “It could be anyone — someone from the dorm, someone staying on campus, anyone walking around on campus that was let into the dorm. Our campus is so open and welcoming that we have no idea who it could be.”
Three weeks after the first incident, front desks at Ormsby and Plantz were also broken into. The Plantz desk was broken into and DVDs were strewn across the floor, but nothing appeared to be missing. Ormsby, however – much like Sage – reported cash, VHS and DVDs, stamps, and laundry tokens stolen from behind the desk. Ormsby placed a monetary value of $250 to their losses. There was no apparent forced entry to Ormbsy’s front desk.
The fourth theft, reported by Raymond House, occurred the same weekend. The intruder had apparently entered by breaking through a window on an exterior door. After searching through drawers and storage closets in the house, they left with a digital camera and a small amount of cash.
While it is odd that there have been so many incidents occurring in such close succession to each other, there is no reason to believe that they were all perpetrated by the same person or group of people. These incidents also do not appear to be related to the unusual amount of theft in the conservatory in the fall, since the thief, an Appleton citizen, was caught and prosecuted in January.
Student involvement in these thefts has not been ruled out, however. The suspicion is actually quite logical since it is more likely that a Lawrence student would know what was behind residence hall desks. In addition, laundry tokens only have monetary value to current students.
“My greatest concern is student safety and students feeling safe and comfortable – especially when they experience something unsettling like having their home broken into. Things can be replaced,” said Truesdell.
Lawrence and Appleton have a well-known reputation for safety, but such occurrences somehow still take place. The administration, along with the campus security, has already begun to plan changes to make our campus a safer place. Currently, all residence halls are ordering better safes. Security already performs both vehicle and foot patrols 24 hours a day, but reports have changed their routines to better enforce protection on campus.
Still, thefts such as the one at Raymond House cannot always be prevented. Lawrence’s buildings are not alarmed and finding a way into the dorms is not very difficult.
“By alerting campus, people will be more observant and have their ears open. There isn’t much you can do but depend on a community watch program,” said Truesdell.