Theft calls for better doors

Attempted burglaries around Northrop Mall led to the installation of stronger glass.

Andy Steinke

If something needs to be fixed in a Northrop Mall-area building, there’s a good chance Allen Smull’s phone will be ringing.

Smull is a carpenter for the University’s Facilities Management. In his words: “When things break, I fix them.”

Friday morning he was in the Murphy Hall basement replacing parts of the two wood doors of the Eric Sevareid Library.

“I’m taking out the old tempered glass and replacing it with laminate glass,” he said.

The old glass wasn’t broken, but the upgrade was necessary after someone attempted to burglarize the computer lab next to the library in June, Smull said.

Tempered glass doors are strong, but if they are hit in the right spot they’ll shatter into small pieces, he said. According to the police report, that is exactly what happened during the attempted computer lab burglary.

The new laminate glass doors will be harder to break because they will spider web, like a car’s windshield, instead of shattering.

Smull said he boarded up the door to the computer lab after it was broken sometime between 5 p.m. on June 29 and 1:30 p.m. the next day. The lab’s three doors are the next ones on his list of things to fix.

The lab’s broken door also had slight damage to the wood near the lock, according to the police report.

Not an isolated incident

This wasn’t the only burglary attempt at the University this summer that had broken glass or pry marks at the scene. Other similar burglaries and burglary attempts occurred during June, July and August, most of them in the mall area, according to police reports.

A few days before the attempted burglary at Murphy Hall there were several labs burglarized at Smith Hall.

According to that report, one of the entry door’s panes of glass was broken, allowing access to the chemistry labs.

Unlike the attempted burglary at Murphy Hall, there were several items stolen during the Smith Hall burglary.

Two other burglaries, both reported on July 2, had pry marks on the doors like the ones at Murphy Hall.

Two doors in Wulling Hall were also damaged between June 29 and July 2. The suspects, however, were unable to get inside the rooms.

The other case, in the Hubert H. Humphrey Center, also had pry marks on the door frame near the latch, but once again the burglar was unable to get inside the room.

There wasn’t enough evidence at any of the four scenes to produce suspects, and University Deputy Police Chief Steve Johnson said some of the cases might be related, but there is nothing concrete that connects them.

One burglary might show a connection, however. On Aug. 25 an “extensive amount of damage” was done to the locks on entry doors of several rooms and labs in the Tate Laboratory of Physics.

Because of the building’s proximity to Murphy Hall, Johnson said the two cases might be related, but evidence is still being processed by the Hennepin County Crime Lab.

There is one sure thing about the burglaries: They are costing the University money.

Smull said the new glass for the Murphy Hall door upgrades were about $1,500 to $2,000 per pane. He said about 15 doors in Tate needed to be fixed or replaced as well because of the burglaries.