April 1, 2008

Burglaries Plague Collegetown

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A string of burglaries left many Cornell students living in Collegetown distraught and angered after returning from spring break. According to the Ithaca Police Department crime logs, there were at least six incidences of larceny between March 14 and March 23 in Collegetown, many of which involved breaking and entering.
Over spring break, burglars targeted student homes to steal personal items and, in some cases, damage property. Laptops, televisions, game consoles and jewelry were the most common items stolen from the Collegetown homes.­
“While we were in Acapulco, burglars broke into six out of eight rooms in our house. It looked like they had taken a battering ram to the doors because they were broken into pieces. They must have wanted things they could easily carry because they only took laptops,” said Vinay Badami ’08, a resident of a home on Catherine St. that was burglarized over spring break.[img_assist|nid=29335|title=Calling Sherlock Holmes|desc=This house on Catherine St. was one of many student homes robbed over spring break.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Many students feel that whoever broke into the houses in Collegetown knew that the residents would be away for the week, and therefore do not feel that their personal safety has been threatened in any way.
“I think in our instance, it’s pretty clear that whoever robbed us knew we were students on spring break. I don’t feel unsafe based on the incidence; they won’t come back if we are here. Plus, our landlord has checked all the doors and locks and is getting the windows secured,” said Abbey Dugan ’09, a tenant of a Linden Ave. home that was robbed.
Other students are now questioning the reliability and security of the homes in Collegetown. The decay and old age of homes in the area have made some apartments more vulnerable to forced entry and theft.
“Everyone knows that Collegetown houses are crap houses. It was stupid of me to have left my laptop there. Most of the houses in Collegetown are really shitty; it could have happened to anyone,” Badami said.
Some landlords of Collegetown apartments have taken precautionary measures and have replaced doors and windows in order to prevent theft. However, if a forced entry does occur, landlords are not held responsible for a tenant’s stolen property.
“The landlord’s contents are the only items that are covered in the event of a burglary. Usually a student’s belongings are covered by their parent’s homeowner’s insurance,” said Christopher Anagnost, a realtor at Christopher George Real Estate and Badami’s landlord.
Many students believe that their own negligence is at fault and that landlords are not to blame. They feel that they should have been more aware and thorough when securing their homes for spring break.
“I don’t hold my landlord responsible because it was our own fault. We didn’t notice that one of the locks on our back window was broken,” Dugan said.
In all instances, the Ithaca Police Department handled the cases and filed police reports. Investigations are currently under way and evidence, including fingerprints from the scene of the Linden Ave. burglary, was collected. However, some feel little hope that the Ithaca Police will recover any of their stolen valuables.
“We called the Ithaca Police as soon as we figured out what was missing. They filed a report and took fingerprints. I haven’t talked to the police much but I’m assuming they won’t find anything,” Dugan said.
Some residents of the city feel that more could have been done to prevent the robberies that occurred over spring break.
“I’m surprised because usually there are special patrols by police in Collegetown over Spring Break, but this year an officer said there weren’t any,” Anagnost said.
The Ithaca Police Department would not provide any comment to confirm or reject this statement. However, this is not the first time that city officials have been accused of neglecting to prevent crime in Collegetown.
“A few years back, when the Collegetown Creeper incident occurred, I put in motion lighting because I had mostly women tenants at the time. I contacted the city to request extra lighting on Catherine St. and it never happened,” Anagnost said.
Landlords have done a lot to ensure the future security of homes in Collegetown. They hope that in the future, students will be more aware of their own safety and the safety of their belongings.
“Students need to think more about security. I have seen tenants leave front and back doors unlocked while they were away. I’m just glad no one was hurt,” Anagnost said.