A total of six burglaries have taken place at Ithaca College over the course of November, all of which occurred at the Circle Apartments.
The two most recent burglaries occurred Nov. 27 in apartments 110 and 170, according to the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management. Tom Dunn, associate director and deputy chief in the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management, said that in apartment 110 coins and cash were stolen. In apartment 170, he said there were not any stolen items reported but that there was damage to a bedroom door.
Another burglary occurred Nov. 23 in apartment 341. Two other burglaries were reported in apartments 10 and 12 sometime between the night of Nov. 9 and the morning of Nov. 10 over Cortaca weekend.
In apartments 10 and 12, televisions and similar electronics were stolen. One person was caught and taken into custody during the burglary in apartment 341. The suspect, a student at the college, was charged with burglary in the second degree, Dunn said.
He said there were no signs of forced entry in any of the burglaries.
Dunn said the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management is looking into connections between the person taken into custody in apartment 341 and the burglaries in apartments 10, 12, 110 and 170. However, Dunn said there are no other leads to the open investigations into apartments 10, 12, 110 and 170.
“Each of these circumstances is unique, in particular, because one was the Cortaca weekend where we have extra people on campus that aren’t necessarily tightly affiliated with the community,” Dunn said. “With these three, it happened during a holiday break period, being Thanksgiving, when the college is less occupied with less people able to report someone being suspicious.”
Dunn said he wants residents to be especially vigilant during winter break. For the glass doors, he recommended students put in a wood block so a burglar could not open the door. Dunn also said students should be hiding their valuables and keeping them out of plain sight as well as locking all doors.
Since the burglaries have occurred, Public Safety has been sending emails to students who live in Circle Apartments with suggestions to prevent future burglaries. Public Safety has also been knocking on doors to inform students of better safety measures to prevent more burglaries in Circle Apartments, he said. Dunn said he does not want to reveal any of Public Safety’s other efforts to ensure that their efforts would not be thwarted.
Residents living in Circle Apartments are concerned with the increase of burglaries in that area.
Senior Sky Mattioli, a Circle Apartments resident, said she does not understand why college students are being targeted for the burglaries.
“What is more upsetting is I’m a senior, I’ve been here for four years,” Mattioli said. “I think this is the most burglaries I’ve ever heard of the entire time I’ve been here, in the same area. And, it means that no one is either finding the person, stopping the person or doing anything. It’s weird to go to bed, lock your door and be scared that you might wake up and someone’s in your apartment.”
Mattioli said she thinks the apartments are easy to break into and some of the locks should be fixed. She said she also believes Public Safety is not doing its best to handle the situation.
“I don’t really think they know how to handle it,” Mattioli said. “Public Safety doesn’t have the best reputation on campus, and while I don’t doubt that they are doing things to stop it, I don’t exactly know what they’re doing to stop it. It doesn’t seem like whatever they’re doing right now is working. When it comes down to it, they’re not the residents that live here. We are.”
Dunn did not immediately respond to requests for comments to respond to criticism.
Senior Norah AlJunaidi, another Circle Apartments resident, said there should be more monitoring by Public Safety in the Circle Apartments area as well as more cameras. AlJunaidi said her Circle apartment last year did not have an ID swipe in order to open its front door, but this year, she has an ID swipe. Only some of the Circle Apartments have an ID swipe for entry.
“I feel a little bit safer because we have the ID things so people can only get in with their IDs,” she said. “But, we still have our back porch, so I always make sure to keep it locked.”
AlJunaidi said she does not normally lock her bedroom door but, since the burglaries have begun, she has been more vigilant about locking that door.
Junior Ryan Schleifman, a Circle Apartments resident, said the emails being sent out to the college population might be inspiring copycat burglaries.
“I feel like people read that email and go ‘Oh people are not locking their doors,’” Schleifman said. “All the emails say there is no forced entry, it’s just people not locking their doors, so I feel like people read that and they just go ‘Oh I could do that,’ and you end up getting copycats.”
Public Safety is required to notify the college population of any potential threats to life and safety on campus due to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, otherwise known as the Clery Act. However, Schleifman said he does not feel as though the emails are helping the community in any way beyond warning residents to be more vigilant in locking their doors.
Dunn said the investigations for apartments 10, 12, 110 and 170 are ongoing and the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management is looking for any tips or leads that students may have about the investigation. People can contact the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management at 607-274-3333, or they can leave an anonymous voicemail message at 607-274-1060.