Theft and Home Invasions: Too Close for Comfort
by Mercelis Bueno, Alicia Garvin, and Mallory Harrison
So far in 2013, the number of burglaries, both on and off campus, has jumped to the levels reported in 2011, according to the Old Dominion Campus Crime Report. In 2010, there were about 21 burglaries and in 2012 about fourteen burglaries. There have been about 33 reported through early December.
Burglaries are not restricted to students off campus homes. In November 2013, two burglaries took place in Rogers Dormitory and Goode Theater. Electronic devices, as well as cash, were stolen. Three home burglaries in neighborhoods homes around campus within that past year also have students on edge. Two were adjacent to campus while the third was about ten blocks away.
In April 2013, a lone man entered the home of Dominique Stewart, 21, which is located on 42nd street nearest to the library. Stewart was on her way home when she got a frantic phone call from her roommate informing her that someone was inside. When Stewart got there, the intruder ran away. Stewart grabbed a baseball bat and ran outside after him. “Looking back it probably was not the best idea,” Stewart said later in an interview. Norfolk police eventually made an arrest and told Stewart the man had attempted burglary in residences of two other all-female homes in previous months.
On August 4, 2013, seniors Evrim Fowler and Elizabeth Parent were separately on their way back from a pool party to their home on West 27th street in Park Place, roughly a five-minute walk from ODU. When they got there, a burglary was in progress and police had already arrived.
“I was coming back from a pool party telling one of my other roommates how it was the best day I had all summer when I got the call from Liz,” Fowler later said in an interview. Fowler said there were four police cars and officers surrounding their home.
Five men had kicked down the wooden back door and gone inside. Neighbors saw the men and quickly called the Norfolk police. When the intruders realized police were there, they panicked and frantically tried to get out. Two fled through upstairs windows causing one to break their leg. Another kicked out a floor level window leaving shards of glass all over Fowler’s bed. One ran away. Police arrested four of the five intruders. Fowler and Parent have been to court and expect testify in coming months.
In another incident, Justin Giles was home alone near the Taco Bell on 40th street in July of 2013 when he heard a window break in the back of his house. Giles checked the room he believed the noise came from and saw two men trying to break in. The intruders did not see Giles as he slipped outside and called police, who caught only one of the men. “I wasn’t really sure what to do but I think I handled it well,” Giles recalled during an interview.
All the victims said the experiences altered their view of safety as an ODU student. “ODU is never really safe,” said Stewart. Giles agreed saying, “I don’t feel 100% safe here but at least I know not to walk alone during certain hours.” Interestingly, all the victims said they blamed the city of Norfolk for not providing better police protection and did not hold the university responsible for off-campus crimes.
ODU’s safety alerts suggest that students “lock windows and doors, install tracking software on personal electronics, and avoid leaving valuables in plain sight.”
Stewart said better lighting would also help. “If the city installed more street lights, not only would students be able to see at night, other people would be able to easily see homes which could prevent invasions.”