More crime alerts due to better communication
Published: Friday, September 13, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 13, 2013 00:09
Despite a number of emails and text messages alerting students to burglaries on campus early in the semester, crime at UConn’s Storrs campus is not on the rise, according to police officials.
UConn students received three alerts from police officials between Aug. 3 and Sept. 1 detailing burglaries or attempted burglaries on the campus. Two of those alerts came within the first week of classes.
“It’s not an unusual uptick (in crime) compared to previous years,” said UConn Police Chief Barbara O’Connor. “What we are doing a much better job at is communicating through our Rave and texting messaging and email systems that these things are occurring.”
State law requires UConn police to send out communications through the Rave Alert system when major crimes take place on campus. In the most recent instances, police notified students of burglaries or attempted burglaries taking place in Batterson, Sprague and New Haven residence halls and in Celeron Square Apartments, an off-campus housing option for UConn students.
“UConn is by and large a very safe campus,” O’Connor said. “That said, things happen here as they do in any place where you have 30,000 young people.”
Deputy Chief of Police Hans Rhynhart said that burglary rates on campus over the past three years have been consistent, and that the four instances in the past month are not statistically unusual. Rhynhart also said as new students and returning students adjust to being on campus, these crimes will likely decline.
According to both O’Connor and Rhynhart, the only major difference in approaching this semester’s crimes was quickly alerting the student population about the incidents while also including a set of crime prevention tips.
Celeron Apartments was the first site of an attempted burglary, taking place on Aug. 3 at 3 a.m. O’Connor said tools were used to attempt to gain entry into one of the apartments, but the offender fled the scene when the resident verbally confronted the intruder.
Batterson and Sprague halls were both burglarized on Sept. 1 between 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. In both instances, the door to the room was unlocked when the crime took place. O’Connor said the offenders “likely entered legally” into the residence halls, while the rooms were entered illegally.
New Haven Hall was the most recent site of an attempted burglary, taking place on Sept. 1 at 4:55 a.m. In this instance, the offender – a male – tried to gain access to the room by pushing out a piece of cardboard next to the resident’s air conditioner. According to Rhynhart, the offender was halfway through the window when the resident was awoken and confronted the intruder verbally. While the intent for the entry into the room was unknown, it was still considered an attempted burglary.
Prior to the alerts received in August and September, the last alert came in February, when Michael Tarpeh, better known as “Bigggggg Mike,” entered an on-campus apartment after being invited inside. While the residents were asleep, he stole several items, including credit cards. Tarpeh was later arrested in March for stealing gas from a Council Bluffs, Iowa, gas station.
Since Sept. 1, there have been no more burglaries or attempted burglaries reported at the Storrs campus. UConn police still urge students to report any instances of burglaries and to be proactive by locking dorm room doors, even when just making a trip to the restroom.
“The Batterson situation and the Sprague situation, how are the police going to patrol to prevent that,” O’Connor asked. “That’s where the reliance on students becomes more critical, encouraging people to call when something just doesn’t feel right. … The best approach to solving it is educating students to lock their doors.”