by Molly Daniels
As their sophomore year comes to a close, many students have already made plans for that first apartment that will take them to the next level of their independence. Before they sign the contract, however, there is something important to be kept in mind about their decision: safety.
The Whitworth campus has seen its share of bike thefts, as well as the occasional destruction of a snow sculpture, but the threats of off-campus crimes can be serious.
Over Christmas break, several duplexes near campus were broken into and robbed. These duplexes were being rented by Whitworth students, and one reported the loss of around $1,000 worth of belongings.
“We don’t know the actual date, but I did a drive-by Christmas Day, and it was reported the next day,” said Bill Meyer, the landlord of the duplexes. “We try to do drive-bys on Christmas break, just to check on things.”
Close to 100 Whitworth students live in his duplexes. Meyer said that the burglar probably knew the duplex residents were college students and that they would be gone for the holidays.
Junior Ethan Johnson was one of the tenants whose residence was robbed. He said the burglar got in through the bedroom window.
“The windows lock, but we left them unlocked. He was able to slide the window right open. The bedroom was messed up, and he had helped himself to a beer, and he made himself a sandwich. Nothing was broken beyond the bedroom window screen.”
The robber was still in the house when Johnson’s roommate returned. He noticed the disorder in the duplex and went upstairs to call the police. While he was on the phone, he heard the downstairs door slam and realized the perpetrator had just left.
Items stolen included videos, Xboxes and video games.
“They put some things in a duffel bag, threw it out the window, and never came back for it. It looks like they tried to leave in a hurry,” Meyer said.
The victims filed a police report, but they don’t have any answers yet.
“I think they were kids, out having fun and being destructive,” Meyer said.
Meyer said he thought that the residents could have done more to prevent the robberies.
“They certainly could have locked the windows. They had locks and adequate latches, but they weren’t locked,” he said
He is thinking of putting in new sliding doors and windows; even if they are unlocked, they are harder to open from the outside than traditional doors and windows. The doors of the duplexes are already supplied with electronic locks.
“We encourage the pin-code. If someone gets ahold of it, you can change it at any time at no cost,” Meyer said. “We tell people not to share the code or keys with anyone.”
Meyer has already taken other safety precautions.
“These properties were built during the ‘60s, and they were surrounded by shrubberies. We got rid of those so people can’t hide around the house,” Meyer said.
Meyer said he encourages students to be especially attentive to their security measures, especially in residences around college campuses.
“People know when the students will be gone. Make sure you take your laptops and valuable things with when you go home,” he said.
Meyer also encourages students to insure their belongings.
“Normally insurance only covers the house but not the content,” he said. “There’s renter’s insurance, which covers personal property, but so few have it.”
Johnson advises fellow students to take all precautionary measures.
“Keep your house on lockdown at all times, especially when you leave town. Over Christmas break, there was only one person at the duplex,” he said.
In spite of the burglary, Johnson doesn’t regret his decision to live off-campus. He said he appreciates the independence off-campus living provides, and this event hasn’t changed his mind about his choice of residence.
Contact Molly Daniels at firstname.lastname@example.org