Michaela Brew / Sun News Photography Editor

Pi Kappa Phi brothers said two men approached their house the same night that Beta Theta Pi was robbed.

November 28, 2016

Two Fraternities Report Burglaries, Say Thieves Seized Electronics

Print More

This post has been updated with additional information.

A television — worth at least $1,000 — was allegedly stolen from Pi Kappa Phi’s fraternity house at 55 Ridgewood Road early Thursday morning, four days after brothers at Beta Theta Pi reported that two unidentified thieves had stripped their house of several valuable electronics.

Pi Kappa Phi fraternity social chair Dan Cadena ’19 said that he was at the house over Thanksgiving break, when he heard noises at around 1 or 1:15 a.m., prompting him to grab a broom he found on the second floor.

“I come downstairs to get a glass of water before going to bed and I start hearing noises, so I grabbed a broom that was on the second floor,” he said. “And when I see the robber I yelled at him to get out and he ran away and into a car. He made it out with only our big TV.”

Cadena, who was the only resident in the house during the incident, said he called the Ithaca Police Department promptly after the encounter. He added that the IPD identified the robber as a white male who was approximately 28 to 30 years old.

Pi Kappa Phi brother Austin McLaughlin ’18 said the brothers are uncertain as to how the burglar entered their house.

“We think all doors were locked so we don’t know how they got in,” McLaughlin said.

Another burglary allegedly occurred at Cornell’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity house, located at 100 Ridgewood Road, at around midnight on Nov. 19. The brothers reported that their main television, an Xbox and two laptops were stolen.

Beta Theta Pi President Red Giuliano ’17 said he believes two perpetrators entered the house through an unlocked side door. He said one brother saw a “hooded figure” when he was returning to the house, but it was too dark to distinguish a face.

The majority of the brothers who live in the house went to the Catskills over the weekend for a brotherhood retreat, so only a few brothers were at the house when the alleged burglary took place, according to Giuliano.

“It’s possible [the perpetrators] just noticed there were no cars in the driveway,” he said. “But it’s kind of crazy that they decided to do this on the weekend that we were all away. I’m not saying it’s anyone that anyone knows, but it is kind of a weird coincidence.”

Irvin McCullough ’18, Beta Theta Pi brother and Interfraternity Council Vice President of Programming, was one of five brothers who stayed at the house. He said the television, Xbox and laptops were still in the Great Hall when he left the house at 10:30 p.m.

Between midnight and 2 a.m., some brothers noticed the television was missing, but they “just assumed someone else in the house had moved in it for whatever reason,” Giuliano said. By Sunday morning, the brothers realized the Xbox and two laptops were missing as well.

All missing items were from the main floor, so the perpetrators likely did not enter any of the brothers’ rooms, McCullough said.

“[The perpetrators] must have scrambled to take the first valuable things they saw,” he said. “They skipped right over our Wii … and our other Xbox.”

That same night, the Pi Kappa Phi brothers said they were confronted by two unidentified males at their front door around midnight.

“They were dressed in all Cornell clothing but looked older than regular college students, and when [the brothers at the door] asked them they said they went to TC3,” said Pi Kappa Phi President Lynah Sherrill ’18.

After the brothers denied the men entry into the house, they “acted very sketchily,” Sherrill said. He explained that the brothers walked them to their car, and one of the men was “bragging that [his car] was a BMW.” Sherrill added that the brothers saw a “large amount of cash visible in the back seat.”

“At that point, [the brothers] were nervous that these guys had weapons because of the cash, but they just drove off and left,” Sherrill said.

Giuliano said the Pi Kappa Phi brothers wrote down the plate number of the “shady characters’” car, which the Beta Theta Pi brothers then handed to the police. Cadena, who witnessed both incidents at the house, said he did not believe that the perpetrators in the two cases at Pi Kappa Phi were the same.

IPD was unavailable to comment on the most recent burglary at Pi Kappa Phi. On Thursday, Officer Jamie Williamson said it was “entirely way too early” to determine if last week’s two incidents were related, although they occurred on the same night. He said the investigation is still an active case, there are no suspects and the police are in the process of determining what occurred.

After their house was burglarized, the brothers of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity said they felt “a bit despondent.”

“Saturday morning we were playing our Xbox on our TV, and Saturday night they were both gone,” McCullough said.

McCullough added that it was “a pain” to move the smaller TV downstairs for the fraternity’s open house on Sunday.

“We like showing off our ‘Great Hall’ — but that’s a bit hard to do when the missing television’s leaving a big hole in the room,” he said. “By the end of the day, we’d all recovered and restored our sense of normalcy. We had a successful open house and met some great potential new members. Now we’re just trying to move forward.”

Giuliano said the brothers reported the burglary to the Ithaca Police Sunday morning, and an officer examined the front door for fingerprints but did not find any.

“It really sucks for the brothers who got their laptops stolen,” he said. “One of them said he hasn’t really backed up any of his projects, and he lost a lot of hard work that he’d done, but it’s really hard to do anything about it.”

The brothers are working with alumni, the Ithaca Police and IFC to improve the house’s safety and “go back to normal,” McCullough said.

“Our executive board is evaluating new security systems to ensure that only brothers and brothers’ guests can enter the house, and our alumni board is working tirelessly to make sure we can get back to normal,” he said. “We’re fully cooperating with the police to find out who did this, whether a townie or a student, and bring them to justice.”

McCullough, who transferred from University of Maryland, said he felt “much safer in Ithaca than in College Park,” but Saturday night’s robbery “shook things up.”

“It’s Ithaca — we don’t think these things happen,” he said. “Robberies aren’t something we read in an infrequent email from Kathy Zoner. They happen indiscriminately and irrationally. It can happen to anyone.”

Nevertheless, McCullough said the fraternity is “bouncing back” after the incident.

“We’re starting to feel safe again, and our improved security measures will make us one of the safest houses on campus,” he said. “I’m confident that Beta won’t be robbed again.”