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Police officials report increase in burglaries during break

BY MEGAN SANCHEZ | DECEMBER 04, 2013 5:00 AM

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Refreshed from the holiday and ready for finals week, UI senior Mitch Grant returned to his apartment, and at first noticed nothing out of the ordinary. And it was, so he thought, until an hour after he got home, when he found game consoles gone and money missing — $700 cash to be exact.

In 2012, between the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday after Thanksgiving, there were three burglaries reported to the Iowa City police. This year yielded a larger number — nine burglaries were reported in the same time frame.

Iowa City police Sgt. Vicki Lalla said she was not surprised when she got to work Monday morning to find burglary complaints had been reported.

“It’s always an issue whenever there is a break,” she said. “We are aware that the number of burglaries usually goes up when the students are away. There were several during the Thanksgiving break, but that’s not unusual.”

Grant said he locked all of the doors and windows, but the trespasser found a way around the locks.

“They actually opened a back window,” he said. “[It appears] they used a chair to prop themselves up. The locking mechanism on top of the window was broken.”

Grant said at first, his roommates did not notice anything was different. For about an hour, they went about as they normally would in their apartment. Slowly, they began to notice belongings missing.

“It kind of took us a while because it wasn’t a mess,” said UI junior Casey Bruce. “Everything was put back neatly.”

But despite the clean getaway, Grant said the loss was mind-blowing. The thief took an Xbox 360, a Playstation 3, $700 worth of Grant’s cash, numerous video games and DVDs, and every roommates’ change collections.

“It was pretty shocking, to be honest,” Grant said. “It wasn’t surprising that someone would do that while we were gone, but it was shocking that someone could get in that easily and take thousands of dollars worth of stuff.”

Both Grant and Bruce said their landlord never warned them about the risk of burglary. In addition to the window, both Grant and Bruce had their doors locked, but the locks were picked.

Apartments Near Campus, which owns the roommates’ house, was unable to be reached for comment.

Assistant Vice President for UI police Chuck Green said it is important not to leave valuables in the open while away on break.

“The basic thing is to just make sure that if you’re going to be gone for a while, don’t leave valuables out that are easy to find, and of course lock the door,” he said. “People need to really communicate with their roommates. I think quite often we get people from larger cities who think everyone in Iowa [won’t cause trouble], but that’s not the case. Crime happens anywhere, and people need to take precautions.”

Green also noted social media can make a person more vulnerable. He said it is important to not post about leaving home online.

Grant said he learned a lot of lessons from this experience but is still wary about leaving for winter break, because the time away is much longer.

“It’s a little uneasy leaving for a four-week period and having our house completely exposed again,” he said.

Bruce said he hopes other students will not make the mistake of leaving valuables out in the open.

“It really can happen to anyone,” he said. “When you’re going away — anything you truly care about — you have to take it with. We locked up the house as well as we could, and it still happened. As tedious as it is dragging stuff home, you have to get it out.”


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