Series of break-ins prompt University Police to step up security and explain safety to residents

A recent surge in criminal activity in the Smith and Kirkley Halls has kept the university police and students on the lookout.

Beginning on Jan. 19, several residents found that their rooms had been broken in to and robbed. The highest concentration of thefts occurred on Jan. 22 and 23, according to UPD press releases. During these two days, at least eight students reported stolen items, which ranged from a cell phone to money. Many students reported missing several items from their residences.

“In all of the incidents, students had left their doors unlocked,” UPD Assistant Director Captain Kevin Morris said. “Most happened in the middle of the day. It looks like they were just walking the halls, looking for unlocked doors.”

One resident reported seeing two African-American males, one outside his door and another inside. When the student approached the suspects, they assaulted him and fled. The resident pursued them but was unsuccessful. Upon returning to his room, the resident realized he was missing several items.

“We’ve got two possible suspects who we believe might be the same suspects in several other cases as well,” Morris said.

Security at Smith and Kirkley Hall has been heightened as a result of the string of break-ins, and officers urge students to take precautions to prevent their personal belongings from being stolen.

“Our first priority was to prevent any further incidences from happening,” Morris said. “We have officers conducting walk-throughs at random because you never know if you might get lucky and see something.”

UPD is also working closely with the Huntsville Police Department to track down some of the stolen items and return them to their owners.

“HPD has technology and software that can search pawn shops all over the state of Texas,” Morris said. “We attempt to get the records from those shops and other places where you can resell things to see if any we can find any of the stolen items.”

Entering a dorm room without the resident’s permission and stealing is considered burglary of a habitation and is a second-degree felony according to the Texas Penal Code 30.02.

“Anytime a felony is committed, you’re looking at jail time,” Morris said.

In order to keep their personal belongings safe, students are encouraged to keep their doors locked at all times and keep expensive items hidden from view.

“If possible, students should mark their belongings or write down the model or serial numbers. That way, if it ever gets stolen it will be much easier for us to get it back,” Morris said.

The Smith and Kirkley Halls are located in the same building and are both co-ed facilities. Rooms are set up suite style with locks on both the doors to the hall and the door to the shared bathroom. No card-access is required to get into the building.

According to the Residence Hall Handbook, students are held responsible for their own property, and the university is not held liable for any theft or damages.

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