The Lehigh University Police Department. The university police are currently investigating five recent burglaries in houses just off campus housing. (Jessica Mellon/B&W Staff)

Lehigh off-campus burglaries increase


The Lehigh University Police Department sent a safety bulletin to the campus community on Feb. 8 regarding a recent uptick in off-campus burglaries. 

The LUPD and Bethlehem Police Department are working together to investigate five robberies that occurred in student housing in the area immediately surrounding Lehigh’s campus, according to the bulletin.

In the bulletin, LUPD Chief Jason Schiffer said that all of the burglaries involved entry through unlocked doors when it was dark outside, and items were stolen from first-floor living areas. 

There were no physical assaults or injuries associated with the five incidents, according to the bulletin.

Schiffer said that areas surrounding college campuses across the country are frequently targeted for property crimes, and Lehigh is no exception. 

“These are crimes of opportunity,” Schiffer said. “People often look for unlocked doors and windows to easily gain entry to a residence to steal valuable items, often electronics.

Schiffer said LUPD is working to find the person or people who are guilty of these burglaries and hold them accountable.

Matthew Rowan, ‘23, was the victim of one of these robberies that occurred at his off-campus home at around 8:15 p.m. on Feb. 7. His residence is located only a block away from the LUPD station. 

Rowan said an Xbox and a backpack were stolen from his house.

“Ultimately it just comes down to accessibility,” Rowan said. “We left our door unlocked for an hour and someone came in and robbed us. My roommates were all in their rooms when it happened.”

He said that he has had friends get robbed under the same circumstances. 

Lehigh Police Crime Prevention Officer Lora Martin said unlocked doors provide easy access for individuals to enter a home without being noticed.

“What’s common about these burglaries is (the perpetrators) are getting in by unlocked doors and taking similar items such as Xbox consoles, laptops, money and jewelry,” Martin said.

Martin offered suggestions students can take to prevent these incidents.

She said students should lock their doors and check them before going to sleep. She also said students should provide a trusted neighbor with a spare key and contact their landlords if the exterior lights around their homes do not work. 

“Make sure your windows lock and unlock properly and you can open them,” Martin said. “Take a step further and lock your bedroom door.”

Martin said Lehigh students can also contact LUPD about a security survey walk, where an LUPD officer comes to an off-campus residence to look for possible flaws or opportunities for a robbery.

In the safety bulletin, Schiffer said that students should also keep porch lights on and not leave electronics or other valuables unattended in plain view. 

Schiffer said all students living on and off-campus are encouraged to call LUPD at (610) 758-4200 if they feel uncomfortable, sense any danger or see something that causes  concern. 

Students with information regarding the recent burglaries are also encouraged to contact LUPD or Bethlehem Police at (610) 865-7187.

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