String of thefts reported in dorms

Police believe the same suspects robbed rooms in two residence halls.

Rebecca Harrington

 

University of Minnesota police are looking for two men suspected in a string of residence hall thefts that occurred over the weekend.

The three thefts — two in Yudof Hall and one in Comstock Hall — occurred within three hours Sunday afternoon, according to police reports. The suspects, whose images were captured by security footage, are still at large.

UMPD Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said the victims must have tailgated into the buildings because they didn’t appear to be residents.

He said a residence hall robbery occurs once a week on average, and more of them can be prevented if students don’t let strangers tailgate into the building.

“Even though it’s Minnesota and we try to be Minnesota nice,” he said, “don’t let people in residence halls who don’t belong there.”

The first robbery occurred around 4:20 p.m. on Sunday. Crystal McLean, a family social science sophomore, said she stepped out of her room in Comstock Hall to go to the bathroom.

When she returned, her laptop was gone.

“I didn’t believe it,” she said. “I stepped back out of my room, shut my door again and came back in, kind of hoping something would be different, but it wasn’t.”

McLean said she went down to Comstock’s information desk, where staff called the police. She said her iPad and backpack were also taken but the suspects left her purse and cellphone.

“I guess I still feel safe,” she said. “I’m just a little more protective of my own things now.”

The second robbery occurred at neighboring Yudof Hall between 4:40 and 5:40 p.m. According to the police report, the victim was taking a shower in the bathroom of her apartment during the robbery.

Her room was also unlocked, and the suspects took her laptop. After reviewing security footage from both incidents, UMPD determined the same suspects were the same in both incidents.

The third robbery, reported Monday morning, occurred at Yudof between 4 and 7 p.m. The victim said he thought his door was locked but wasn’t sure, according to the police report.

His laptop, graphing calculator and backpack were stolen from his room. Miner said UMPD believes the same two suspects committed all three robberies.

University residence halls are secured with U Card readers, security cameras and staff. Miner said the residence halls are “safer than they’ve ever been” but human error is difficult to prevent.

The best way for residents to deter thieves, Miner said, is to lock doors, even if they’re just leaving for a minute.

“Lock the door,” he said, “and it’ll make people go on to the next room if they encounter a resistance.”

McLean said she had a false sense of security because she felt safe enough to go to the bathroom without locking her door.

“I still trust the security at the U,” she said. “There are always going to be students or people that are going to do bad things no matter how many measures you have in place.”