UP investigates separate rashes of thefts and break-ins at NU

Evan Hessel

University Police is investigating two separate strings of minor crimes that have frustrated the department since mid-November.

According to Lt. Glenn Turner, UP has identified two sets of crimes that they suspect can be attributed to specific individuals. UP is investigating a series of thefts of laptop computers, cellular phones and other personal items from university buildings, as well as a set of break-ins at university residences that occurred while students were away during Winter Break.

But so far police do not have enough evidence to charge either individual with the main crime he is suspected of committing, although they have charged one man with two lesser crimes.

The rash of thefts in academic buildings occurred between Nov. 16 and Dec. 7, and involved the regular disappearance of small, easily concealed items such as wallets, laptops and digital organizers, Turner said. UP received reports of a unusually high number of such thefts from Arthur Andersen Hall, Kresge Hall and the Technological Institute between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 1 p.m, said Sgt. Timothy Reuss.

On Dec. 7, UP responded to a call from a university employee about a suspicious man wandering the ground floor of Arthur Andersen Hall. Upon their arrival, the man fled the building on a bicycle, heading west on Library Place. Reuss pursued him in a squad car, chased him down on foot and then wrestled him to the ground.

The man was charged with trespassing and resisting arrest, Reuss said. He posted $100 bail that night and was released from jail.

Prior to the incident, the man had most recently been arrested by UP in 2000 for possession of burglary tools.

Since his arrest, daytime theft of small items from academic buildings has decreased dramatically, Reuss said. UP also has linked a cell phone taken from Arthur Andersen Hall to the man and hopes to use it as evidence that he committed multiple thefts, Turner said.

In addition to the recent series of thefts, UP is investigating a separate set of break-ins at Foster-Walker Complex and the International Studies Residence College during Winter Break.

UP received reports from ISRC’s housekeeping staff on Dec. 17 that the doors of several rooms had been kicked in and damaged, Turner said. A few weeks later, the Foster-Walker staff informed UP that doors had been kicked in on the third and fourth floors of the building on Jan. 2 and 3.

A box of checks and a few other small items were taken from the buildings, but computers, stereos and televisions were left in the rooms. UP suspects that the person responsible for the damage might be a disgruntled employee who is trying to get back at the school, Turner said.

The person who kicked in the doors had a key to the buildings, Reuss said. UP has traced the key to a specific person but has no proof.

“We have some hopeful leads, but when we catch someone for a break-in like this, it is usually because the stolen merchandise surfaces,” Turner said. “Since nothing is stolen, it is our gut feeling that it is an internal problem, and it will be very difficult to get the proof to actually catch someone.”