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Police probe string of car break-ins

BY MARLEEN LINARES | NOVEMBER 17, 2009 7:21 AM

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Iowa City police have extra officers patrolling near a sorority after a handful of reported burglaries.

Someone broke into Alpha Chi member Abbi Arp’s car twice this month, once by smashing her window and another by slashing her convertible top.

Though the burglars only stole pocket change from her car, the UI junior now faces thousands of dollars in damage, and she is scared to be in her sorority’s parking garage.

“I’m terrified,” she said. “Now I always call one of my roommates and have them meet me at the door of the house.”

The break-in to Arp’s car was not the only incident in the Alpha Chi parking garage — there have been at least two other break-ins this year, leaving some sorority members unnerved.

Katy Strenge, another member of Alpha Chi, was the one to find Arp’s 2004 Black Mitsubishi Spyder with a hole cut out in the convertible top and a large footprint on the top when she was leaving the sorority house at 828 E. Washington St. Strenge told Arp and called the police.

“It was obviously done by a sharp knife,” the UI junior said. “What would have happened if one of us was out there when it happened?”

Strenge, who parks right by Arp, also found her friend’s car after it was broken into the first time on Oct. 19. Strenge discovered the car had a shattered back passenger seat window. In this incident, the suspects took a designer purse from the car, as well as Arp’s credit card, which someone used at a McDonald’s and a Kum & Go before her company deactivated it.

Burglars have also broken into the cars of Alpha Chi members Rachel Grim and Lily Dobson this year. Neither saw damage to their vehicles, though a couple of dollars were missing from Dobson’s car.

Though Dobson said the incidents make her nervous, the house is taking precautions, including installing security cameras and discussing the issue at a meeting.

“It really is a personal decision to be aware of your surroundings,” she said. “There are dangers anywhere on campus.”

Iowa City police Sgt. Troy Kelsay noted they have leads in Arp’s case after collecting fingerprints from her car.

Though someone broke into Arp’s car on two separate occasions, Kelsay said he had no reason to believe she is being targeted as an individual.

“A convertible provides ease of access,” he said. “It’s an easy opportunity to target that kind of car.”

Aside from the cases at Alpha Chi, the city has seen other car break-ins across the city, including two others last weekend.

Suspects broke into UI junior Evan Mullins’ car and stole an iPod and FM tuner on Nov. 5. The car was parked at the parking lot of his apartment complex at 650 S. Dodge St.

Mullins said he does not feel less safe at his complex, noting that he has noticed an officer patrolling at night after the incident.

“These guys are pretty smart,” he said. “They know to break in on late weeknights when no one is out. I don’t ever feel unsafe.”

Mullins’ girlfriend’s convertible top also got slashed, though nothing was stolen. He said police had told him of another case in which a car had been broken into and subwoofers were stolen.

Kelsay said police are looking into a potential connection to the various other break-ins. Officers arrested Darryl Marcel Henry, 18, 1401 Franklin St., after finding him reportedly breaking into a car on 520 S. Johnson St. on Nov. 13.


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