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Gambier on alert after break-ins, thefts

Gambier on alert after break-ins, thefts

By Henri Gendreau

A recent string of car break-ins and burglaries in the Gambier area has residents on their toes and locking their doors.

On Aug. 27 and 28, one vehicle was stolen, two car windows were smashed in and several personal items disappeared. On Saturday, Aug. 24, two laptops and some cash were stolen from rooms in Norton Hall, with a third laptop taken from that hall the following Monday.

As of Tuesday, Sept. 3, Knox County Sheriff David Shaffer said there were no suspects in the Gambier cases, and that a resident’s missing 2009 gray Toyota Matrix was still reported as stolen.

Maureen Tobin, graduate school and preprofessional advisor, had a rude awakening Wednesday morning when she found a side window of her locked car broken, and some of her daughter’s cross country gear missing.

“It’s pretty bold,” Tobin said of the theft. “[The car was] not far from our house. I’m surprised we didn’t hear it, to be honest.”

Two doors down from Tobin, Assistant Athletic Director Amy Williams also had her car broken into. In an email, Williams said nothing appeared to have been taken.

“I think everybody feels, you know, you feel violated, you’re upset, you’re frustrated,” Tobin said.

Just outside the Village on Kenyon Road, Beth Hillier, who works in the Health and Counseling Center, said her husband’s expensive leaf blower had been stolen from their garage. She also said a neighbor family’s wallet and empty purse had been taken out of their car, but that the wallet dropped was intact.

“I have lived here all my life and we have never had to lock anything, but the world is changing and it’s time to realize these things can happen anywhere,” Hillier said in an email.

“We’ve had a string of auto thefts and burglaries within the county all summer,” Campus Safety Director Bob Hooper said. But Hooper said those thefts are not related to the stolen laptops and cash that occurred during first-year move-in day.

When Emma Welsh-Huggins ’17 returned to her room around 10 p.m. from a mandatory hall meeting Saturday, she noticed nothing amiss. She then left, making sure to lock the door behind her, and returned about an hour later. That was when she noticed her laptop was gone.

“It just did not seem like a possibility to me that someone would have actually walked in and just taken it,” she said.

She later discovered another laptop and cash had gone missing from a hallmate’s room. That student was later contacted by an employee at the Apple Store in Columbus, who said a man had come in to have the laptop “unlocked.” His request was denied, and according to Hooper, the laptop is currently in evidence. Shaffer said he is waiting for Apple’s assistance in the case. A manager at the Apple Store declined to comment.

Because K-Card access to the dorms was disabled to ease the move-in process, Welsh-Huggins believes it was easier for the thefts to occur.

“The outer doors were unlocked the entire night. That definitely was something that was very frustrating to me,” she said.

“It was when we got the report of the first laptop, we went ahead and relocked everything,” Hooper said.

The campus was put on heightened alert last December when three laptops were stolen from the library. Hooper said did not know of any new policies the College had put in place to prevent future thefts. Hooper said the cases were unrelated, and that the thief is “familiar with the schedule” surrounding move-in day.

“We have not had this issue happen before during move-in weekend,” Assistant Dean of Students for Housing and Residential Life Alicia Dugas said in an email. “We will have to continue to balance student safety and ease of move in.”

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