Students have reported several off-campus burglaries during the last few weeks.
“There are not break-ins off campus, but there are walk-ins off campus,” said Edward Shupp, chief of the Lehigh University Police Department.
Shupp said walk-ins occur when someone walks into a home and takes valuable belongings. He said walk-ins often take place when doors are left unlocked.
He said students need to do their part to keep themselves out of harms way, which includes locking doors.
“Crime is opportunity,” Shupp said. “I cannot teach common sense.”
Hallie Fuchs, ’19, said her off-campus house was broken into and robbed a few weeks ago.
Fuchs said she’s positive her doors were locked.
“The email that got sent out to all of the students said that in all the incidences the doors were unlocked, but that’s not true in our case,” Fuchs said. “We are very careful about security.”
Fuchs said she gave the same information to a Bethlehem and Lehigh police officer and thinks there was some miscommunication along the way.
Similarly, Stefan Petreski, ’18, said his off-campus home was broken into twice at the end of last semester.
Petreski said he isn’t sure if his doors were locked the first time, but he’s positive his house was locked the second time. The second burglary occurred on the last day of school.
He said the burglars stole more than $5,000 worth of items, all packed in boxes in the entryway, ready to be brought home for the summer.
“They definitely were looking at us and waiting for the best time to strike, which is even scarier,” Petreski said. “It wasn’t just a random thing. It was planned out.”
Shupp said living off campus is safe, but living on campus is safer, though surveillance cameras are strategically located both on and off campus.
Petreski thinks installing more off-campus surveillance cameras would promote a safer environment. When the burglary occurred at his home, he checked surveillance camera footage. However, the cameras were angled so that it was impossible to see anything of value, especially up and down the street.
“(Burglaries) are very hard to prevent, except for the standard locking your doors and what not, but we definitely need more surveillance,” Petreski said. “If they have cameras on every corner, these people will start thinking twice.”
Students can register their houses with LUPD for extra protection over breaks. When registering, students must provide their off-campus addresses, departure and return dates, the total number of students in residence, which lights they intend to leave on and more. The police can come by and check on the area multiple times a day to prevent problems.
While police cannot entirely prevent crime, both Fuchs and Petreski expressed the need for more quality control in terms of off-campus housing.
Fuchs said she and her roommates have been more on-edge since the burglary and have taken further action to ensure their safety by locking their individual doors in addition to the front door of the house.
Petreski decided to move back on campus.
Fuchs and Petreski are not the only victims of break-ins. They said they have heard similar stories from their neighbors, who are also Lehigh students.
Fuchs said some students did not report break-ins because they had drugs or alcohol stolen and felt uncomfortable reporting these incidents.
“The cop specifically said that they literally don’t care what was stolen,” Fuchs said. “As long as they know that something was stolen, there is more that could be done. I hope other kids come forward if the same thing happens to them because without reporting it, it will just get buried.”