Police say old buildings more prone to break-ins

Most U buildings have controlled access.

Police say old buildings more prone to break-ins

Megan Nicolai

Aging buildings and outdated security led to a string of burglaries concentrated on the University of MinnesotaâÄôs East Bank campus last month.

University police reported about 43 incidents of burglaries and attempted break-ins around the schoolâÄôs campus this year. Ten of them were in September, and seven took place on the East Bank âÄî an unusually high concentration, University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said.

Pillsbury Hall and Lind Hall, two of the buildings burglarized this year, were built in 1887 and 1912 respectively.

Pillsbury Hall was burglarized twice in August. In September, a third attempt was foiled when a professor working in the building spotted someone trying to prop open one of the buildingâÄôs doors.

The buildings were probably an easy choice for burglars because of their age, Miner said. Older buildings often have less physical security and more entrances, which can be hard to regulate.

Most buildings at the University have controlled access. Wiring for card access or video surveillance can be difficult to install in old structures, said Tim Ferrian, director of sales and marketing at Pro-Tec Design, a Minneapolis-based security system design company.

A few weeks ago, Minneapolis police arrested two suspects in connection with six East Bank burglaries and thefts after they were discovered with two University laptops, Miner said. University police are now working on preventing further incidents.

âÄúThe trend of targeting East Bank buildings should come to a stop,âÄù Miner said.

Many buildings currently under renovation will gain security updates, Miner said.

He said the school will work on adding indoor security cameras to its older buildings. Lind Hall will likely gain card access, which could come with a price tag of $100,000 for the University, he said.

Ferrian said the price of card access to doors can range from $1,000 to $4,000 a door, depending on the buildingâÄôs age or structure.

Adding surveillance cameras could cost the University anywhere from $1,000 for a basic indoor camera and installation to more than $3,000 for a newer, more high-tech model for indoor or outdoor monitoring.

The buildingsâÄô security is also brought up to date every time they undergo a renovation or an update, said Brian Swanson, the assistant vice president for finance at University Services.

For 2012, the University allocated $14 million to the public safety budget, which funds University police, Central Security and emergency management, Swanson said. That fee was similar to the projected budget for 2011, he said.

Card access, a security feature at many facilities, is a vital feature of the UniversityâÄôs security, Miner said. Central Security at the University, responsible for monitoring and maintaining security systems, monitors each use of a card for entrance.

The University has more than 53,000 access card users and nearly 2,300 secured doors, according to the security office.

The University also encompasses a CCTV system âÄì a network of closed-circuit cameras that monitor different areas of the campus throughout the day.

Monitors watch footage 24 hours a day and also respond to alarms set up around campus that can connect directly to the monitoring office and provide instant footage of the location of the call, according to the security officeâÄôs website.

There are about 1,400 CCTV cameras installed across the Twin Cities campus, according to the Central Security website.

University officials have shown interest in updating the campus, Miner said. Over the past decade up to $9 million has been allocated to security services, Miner said.

âÄúTheft rates have decreased substantially,âÄù Miner said. âÄúItâÄôs having, we feel, a great result.âÄù

But some of the burglaries could have stemmed from human error or door malfunctions, he said.

Officers often respond to reports of unlocked doors around campus, Miner said. More than 55 incidents of unsecured doors have been reported this year alone.