MRU Residents report more thefts in 2011
by Bryan Weismiller
Residence security has become an issue after an unusually high number of break-ins were reported this year. Campus Security is currently aware of six thefts, three in the West Residence, two in the east townhouses, and one is still being investigated.
Roommates Latasha Calf Robe and Michelle Dennis said they were shocked to find their TV taken from their townhouse on March 8. Calf Robe estimated she was gone for about an hour between 10 and 11 p.m. when she came home to find a “big empty space” where her television had once been.
Initially thinking it was a joke, Calf Robe checked around the townhouse to see if someone had hidden it. She also called her friends across the street and Facebook messaged Dennis to see if they knew what happened. She finally realized it wasn’t a joke, and she had been robbed.
“I felt insecure,” Calf Robe said, afraid the thieves would come back. “If they got in then anyone else could get in as well, right?”
Dennis said she also assumed it was a prank.
“I thought it was surreal, and it was a joke because there’s no way somebody could walk in to residence and steal a TV from students without anybody realizing,” Dennis said.
Having been raised on native reserves, both women said they come from a trusting community where it’s not always necessary to lock doors. They admitted they often leave their front and side doors unlocked because they felt a similar sense of community on campus.
“It’s like seeing behind the scenes of Disneyland and realizing it’s not real,” Dennis said. “We have to be careful now and that’s scary.”
Bill Spring, manager of security services, said the numbers of thefts are “unusually high,” and he’d like residents to lock their doors more often and be more aware of suspicious activity happening in their community.
“Residence is like any other household, people have a tendency to relax in their households,” Spring said. “The manager of residence services and I are trying to get residents to be more aware there is crime in the area.”
Spring later said the incidents may be crimes of convenience because of all the “shiny things” students carry around. Most of the items stolen have been things like a TV or Xbox that can be sold to pawnshops. Additional cameras are expected to be added in common spaces such as the storage area in Building B in the West Residence and between the front and back door of the residence front desk. All East Residence bedrooms and back door locks will be converted to the black radio frequency keys, which are currently used in the main entrance.
In an email to The Reflector, Natasha Reynolds, residence assistant manager, said: “I believe we have had a few isolated incidents. I do not think we have a big issue here.”
Reynolds emphasized the need for students to keep everything locked. She added all of the thefts have occurred in common areas and locking individual bedrooms is a good idea.
Both Dennis and Calf Robe said they take responsibility for not locking their doors. However, they were additionally frustrated by how the situation was handled.
After determining the TV had been stolen, Calf Robe said her Residence Advisor (RA) was not home, and she had a tough time finding the on-duty RA. Campus security laughed at her concerns and so did an RA who told her to wait to see if it “walks in.”
She and Dennis followed up several times, often never getting a response back from residence services. Without warning, a new TV finally appeared on March 18.
“I was reminded of the theft because the TV was missing for a week and a half,” Dennis said. “I remember that somebody stole something; someone I don’t know was in my house.”
In late February, a letter and email were sent out to all residents outlining several suggestions to increase security. Dennis said she felt the message was not sent from a place of concern for student safety, but a concern for liability of items. She was also frustrated to hear there had been other break-ins around campus.
“I think it hurts a lot worse if you don’t see the truck coming and we did not see it coming,” Dennis said. “Bam. We take responsibility for not locking our doors, but at the same time, they need to take responsibility for not handling the situation properly.”
Both Calf Robe and Dennis suggested face-to-face communication and an active response by residence services would have helped the situation.
“It sounds like a small issue, but when you take a step back then you realize it’s actually pretty big,” Calf Robe said. “Somebody was in our house, they could’ve been in anybody else’s house and it was not dealt with properly.”
Spring also said residence services and campus security are partially responsible for what happens on residence.
“The residence manager and I have extra responsibility because a lot of these people are away from home,” Spring said. “They’re somebody’s children. “We try to take extra care and caution while still allowing them to have the residence experience we’ve all had at one time or another.”