LSA senior Michael Kaplan was ecstatic returning home from the Wolverines’ victory over the Fighting Irish Saturday night. But Kaplan’s joy quickly turned to dismay.
Upon opening his locked bedroom door, Kaplan soon found that part of his window had been removed from its frame and his laptop was stolen.
“Everyone was having a good time, we were all so excited,” Kaplan said. “Then I go in my room and find that my laptop is gone. It completely ruined the fun of the day.”
And it turns out he wasn’t the only one.
Kaplan was just one of many students who fell victim to a series of home invasions that occurred this past weekend, resulting in the theft of laptops and other electronic devices. The invasions occurred in the heavily student populated neighborhood south of campus.
At least four separate homes were burglarized this weekend, but the Daily received tips for two others that could not be confirmed. Multiple phone calls placed to these individuals were not returned by yesterday night.
The Ann Arbor Police Department currently has no suspects in any of the reported burglaries, and no reported witnesses, officials say. Police do not yet know if any of the home invasions are linked, but they are not ruling out the possibility.
AAPD Lieutenant Myron Blackwell said that because the crimes occurred over the weekend, the police reports have not yet been compiled.
While he said that he is not always aware of the crimes that are committed while he is off duty, Blackwell said he thinks the number of home invasions that occurred this weekend is not abnormal for this time of the year.
“It’s just the second week of school,” Blackwell said. “Professional (thieves) know students won’t be locking their doors; they come with that knowledge into the area. Getting into student houses isn’t difficult for a professional.”
LSA junior Ellis Hamburger, who lives on Vaughn Street, arrived home Friday night from a party to find that his computer was missing from his room. Upon checking the rest of the house, his roommates found that their computers, computer chargers and an iPod had also been taken. Hamburger said the intruder entered by climbing through a window in the back of the house that did not have a lock on it.
Hamburger said he has spoken with a number of people since the incident who have experienced similar break-ins last weekend.
“There was a big party going on next door when it occurred,” Hamburger said. “It must have definitely made it easier for someone to slip by unnoticed.”
Blackwell noted that house parties could make a theft easier for burglars to carry out. Despite the fact that there may be hundreds of witnesses, he said, there is usually no way to pinpoint a suspect.
“There are 200to 300 people at a house party,” Blackwell said. “People go to house parties and mingle right on in and scope out the place. They might come back another time, or if they see the opportunity they’ll take something right then and there.”
Music, Theatre & Dance senior Laura Lapidus arrived home with two of her roommates shortly before the football game on Saturday to find that three of the bedrooms had been broken into. Items missing included four laptop computers, personal credit cards and cash, an iPod, and a digital camera. Lapidus estimated that everything in total was worth more than $5,000.
The intruder or intruders broke in between the hours of noon and 3 p.m. Saturday, Lapidus said, while students and fans alike covered the heavily populated area.
“As silly as it sounds, we are scared that whoever broke in was watching us,” Lapidus said. “They broke in the middle of the day at just the right time that none of us were home.”
Kinesiology senior Dan Schachne and Business senior Dave Jablonski said their house was broken into through one of the side doors Thursday afternoon. A laptop, a 42-inch LCD TV, a Playstation 3, two controllers and two video games were stolen from their home near the intersection of Hill and State Streets.
Calls put out to other suspected victims were not returned Sunday night.
Blackwell said the best way to prevent a breaking-and-entering from occurring is lock all of your doors and windows when you are gone, and be sure that there is never anyone you don’t know in your home.
“When people ask for someone who does not live at your house, call 911 — it is a ploy for thieves,” Blackwell said. “Even if it seems like they are actually a student looking for their friend at the wrong house, it’s better to be safe now than to find you are missing personal items later.”
The AAPD did not have the number of reported home invasions for the weekend readily available yesterday, but Blackwell said the information would be available today.
Music, Theatre & Dance senior Bridget Gabbe, one of Lapidus’ housemates, said they are now second-guessing their houses safety because of the break-in.
“It’s not just the fact that the computers were taken,” Gabbe said. “It’s the fact that there were strangers in our house and it was so easy for them to get in. None of us feel right about staying in our house now.”
Like Gabbe, Kaplan said he finds the fact that strangers so easily entered his house a sobering thought.
“You come home to find that someone was in your room, touching your personal items,” Kaplan said. “It’s not just the hardware. I feel invaded — my privacy is gone. I have to keep worrying about this. I can’t think of my room as the safest place for my things anymore.”