UPD takes action

Three Huntsville residents between the ages of 19 and 22 years old have been issued criminal trespassing warnings after allegedly asking Sam Houston State University dorm residents for money and harassing a Belvin Hall resident with telephone calls.

Joellen Tipton, director of Residence Life, said the men apparently came into the Estill and Belvin Halls with residents at different times between Jan. 19 and Jan. 22.

The men came into the female halls to talk with the residents and ask for telephone numbers from some of the residents.

Other times the men would come into the dorms alone and knock on resident’s doors to ask for money. A Belvin resident later reported receiving harassing phone calls from one of the men.

“Initially, we called University Police because they were not supposed to be wandering around in our buildings, and at that point that was the first time UPD was involved,” Tipton said. “(UPD) issued them all criminal trespass warnings and, of course, told them they could not come back and ascertained they were not students.”

Dennis Culak, University Police Department assistant director, said officers who were dispatched to the dormitories confronted the local individuals who have a criminal history of theft.

Based on their records and the trouble these men were causing, the department decided to post photographs of the men to encourage residents to call UPD if they saw the men.

“We had a report that some individuals were in the dormitory and they were going up and knocking on doors and asking for money,” Culak said. “When we dispatched some officers, they did confront some individuals who are locals in the city of Huntsville and they do have a criminal history, so we wanted to let all the residents know that these individuals could approach students.”

Culak said if the men are seen in the residence halls or on campus they will be subject to an arrest for violating their criminal trespassing warning.

“We just wanted to alert the residents, and if they see these individuals inside the resident’s halls please let us know so that we can go ahead and deal with the situation,” he said.

The men were considered a threat after they allegedly continued to return to the campus, ignoring the criminal trespassing warnings they received, Tipton said.

“Our staff was calling UPD to let them know, and UPD would respond, but they were not able to get there in time to catch them,” said Tipton. “In the course of things, we found out that a couple of them do have criminal records so that concerned us because they were being bold, plus the fact that the one girl was receiving the phone calls.”

Residence life staff and the UPD decided to post pictures of the men in the dorms to let the residents be aware that they were still wondering around the dorms and ignoring the warnings issued to them by UPD.

Tipton said the Residence Life staff held meetings to remind dorm residents of basic safety measures to be aware of. The safety issues were to remind residents they were responsible for their own safety and they should not be letting outside people into the buildings.

“Even if you live in a coed building and you do not know the guy coming in the door behind you, shut the door so he either has to have a key or show his id,” said Tipton. “Do not give people your phone number who you do not know, because it is better to be safe than nice.”

No thefts have occurred on campus from the incident, but the departments wanted to alert the residents to make sure they secured their doors since the individuals have been known to participate in thefts.

Although the thefts occurred off campus, the individuals involved all have criminal histories, Culak said.

LaQuita Hancock freshman and Estill Hall resident said there was a floor meeting at the beginning of the semester to advise students about the situation.

“There were four guys who were walking around the dorms and you are supposed to have an escort at all times and they did not have an escort,” Hancock said. “They told us not to let anyone in our rooms, not to leave our doors unlocked, and to look through our peek hole before letting people come into the room.”

Hancock said at first the men were knocking on doors asking for various names of girls and some were letting them in their rooms, not realizing that the men were not supposed to be on campus.

“I know (one of the men) went into one of my friend’s rooms, and she let him in because she did not think anything about it until after we had a floor meeting, then she realized that one of the guys had gone into her room,” Hancock said.

Tipton wanted to remind students that if they see people who do not look like they belong in the halls, they should call their resident assistants. If the particular men posted in the dorms are seen, residents are encouraged to call UPD immediately.

“We have not come across these individuals, so apparently they are staying off campus and that is what was our whole intention was so that they would stay off campus,” Culak said.

The UPD can be reached by phone at 294-1794, or for emergencies call 294-1000.

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