Laptops, game consoles and cell phones targeted in off-campus snags
THE SANTA CLARA
February 11, 2016
Junior Jennifer Mick fell asleep on her couch at 1 a.m. last October, her laptop just five feet away from her on the table. When she woke up at 6 a.m., her laptop was gone, and she came to the horrifying realization that in the past five hours someone had snuck in through the unlocked front door of her off-campus home and prowled around the living room while she was there.
“The front door was unlocked and the headphones that were plugged into my computer were on the ground,” Mick said. “It’s extremely distressing to have someone come in your house, being so close to you. I felt extremely violated.”
Unfortunately, many Santa Clara students who live off-campus like Mick have had similar experiences. Burglars have been sneaking into off-campus homes student homes at night through unlocked doors to steal electronics like laptops, cell phones and game controllers, specifically on lightside.
Senior Anna Sarocco got robbed twice in the past few months. The first time was last summer—the burglar came in through the back door of her house, which a subleaser had left unlocked, and stole Sarocco’s work computer and wallet as well as her roommate’s wallet. She and her roommates reported the robbery to the police that morning.
The second time was more recently, the weekend before finals week in fall quarter, and the bandit stole three laptops—which she and two of her roommates owned.
“Our back door lock was actually broken and we got it fixed later but we had already asked our landlord to fix it but it took him a week and in that time we got robbed,” she said. “They came in through the back door again.”
Sarocco’s roommate was sleeping on the couch with her laptop right next to her on the floor when it was stolen—eerily similar to what happened to Mick.
“It seems like they go around our entire neighborhood and they check every lock and see if there’s anything there they can take,” Sarocco said. “This has happened to so many many people that something more should be done.”
One of the most recent rounds of off-campus burglaries happened the last week of January.
A PlayStation, controllers and games were stolen from senior Curtis Mackenzie’s off-campus house on Jan. 26.
“The night before I’d personally locked up the house at around 3 a.m.,” Mackenzie said. “We’d gone about our day and hadn’t realized it was gone until we sat down to watch T.V. It was about $750 of hardware.”
The same week, burglars snuck in through an unlocked back door in senior Zac Stickney’s house and snagged two laptops between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m.
“The cop I talked to said I was the sixth person he talked to that day that had stuff stolen,” Stickney said. “Luckily my housemate wasn’t home but his laptop was in his room, so they walked into his room, which was unsettling.”
Stickney said the police department took down the two computer’s serial numbers in an attempt to track them down, since if a laptop gets sold at a pawn shop they have to declare it.
According to Sarocco, the house across the street from her also got robbed recently—someone came in through an unlocked back door and stole computers and phones.
“The person came into their bedrooms to take their phones while they were sleeping, and he woke up one of them because she had her earphones in and when he took the phone away he ripped her earphones out,” Sarocco said.
However, the vandal was caught because he turned on the devices after stealing them and the electronics were tracked down.
“It must’ve been his first time robbing,” Sarocco said.
Senior Aaron Poor, president of the Associated Student Government, said that raising awareness about the burglaries is crucial to ensuring that students lock their doors at night.
“Being transparent about the number of burglaries reported would help students understand how serious the problem is,” Poor said. “And another thing is making sure students are comfortable reporting them and also having the police support them.”
Poor was affected by the burglaries as well—burglars stole a computer and Wii U game controllers from his off-campus house on Alviso Street last year.
Both Mick and Sarocco said that it has been unnerving and taken a mental toll on them to live in a house that has been burglarized.
“I’ve been extremely diligent about locking the doors but I never feel safe coming home late or being downstairs alone late at night,” Mick said.
Mick said that she is “frustrated” with campus safety and the police this year because she wasn’t warned that break-ins are extremely common in her neighborhood.
“My housemates and I weren’t very good at locking the door at night because we had a false sense of safety,” Mick said.
Mick said she thinks Campus Safety and the police “aren’t doing anything” to try and prevent the burglaries from happening.
“When I called the cops, they came but they were not nice about it,” Mick said.“They acted like they’ve done this hundreds of times before (because they have) and told me that I would probably never see my computer again and to lock my house doors.
According to John Loretto, assistant director of Campus Safety Services, burglaries of off-campus homes are more common in warmer months because students are more likely to leave their doors unlocked.
Loretto said that although campus safety is aware of the problem, they aren’t always informed of it when off-campus robberies are reported to the police department.
According to Poor, the university is taking steps to track off-campus crime.
Poor said he and ASG vice president Madeline Owen met with Jeanne Rosenberger, vice provost for Student Life and dean of students, on Feb. 10 and outlined a three block grid on the north, south and west sides of campus for the Office of Student life to look into getting crime statistics for from the police department.
Contact Sophie Mattson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4849.