Although long-time Keene police officers have said holiday break-ins are a yearly phenomenon, that does not make the pain of losing personal property any easier for students.
According to Keene Police Department and Campus Liaison Officer Katie Corbett, the officers who have worked at KPD for a while said this happens every year. Over Thanksgiving break this year there were a total five houses broken into on Elliot and Willow Streets, Corbett said. Of those five houses, with one in question, Corbett said the burglar for four of the houses must have gained entrance through an unlocked door or window.
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“They are all still under investigation,” Corbett said. “It looks like we definitely maybe have found a suspect for one of them.”
The reason the police may have found a suspect is because the detectives were able to find some fingerprints, and one footprint from some of the houses.
“The biggest thing is if a burglary gets called in, call us [KPD] right away,” Corbett added. “Because a lot of people start going through their drawers trying to figure out what’s gone and then the whole room’s contaminated.” Corbett also mentioned that students need to be careful when leaving for break because it’s not hard for people to find out where Keene State College students live.
“It’s easy to pick out a college house because you all have plates from out of state and you got the Keene State [College] sticker in your back window,” Corbett said. “So when all the cars are gone, you know students are on break.”
Corbett said it’s important to check all your windows and doors before leaving for break because you never know where the break-ins will happen. She said they can be spread out so over winter break there could be break-ins on Spring Street and Beaver Street.
KSC senior Devan Witzenbocker was one of the students living on Elliot Street who had her home robbed over Thanksgiving. At Witzenbocker’s house, she said the burglar came in through the back screen porch door that was found open by their first roommate who returned on Friday after break. “All the rooms upstairs were all locked with a big master lock or I had a stupid little lock, but they all were locked, and those were wide open. So those were either kicked in or mine was unscrewed,” Witzenbocker said. “All the locks were triple checked before the last girl left.”
Because of the way certain things were left in the house after the break-in, Witzenbocker and her roommates said they have reason to believe there was at least a guy and a girl in their home.
“The way that it looked, it looked like more than one person because sometimes it was very selective,” Witzenbocker said. “I have a wall-hanging of necklaces and there were three left but others were taken. It’s weird because the way that it’s hung up is not very sturdy, and if they were grabbing it like whatever it would have fallen down, but it wasn’t so they did it carefully.”
Witzenbocker also said one of her roommates, who is a smaller girl, had one of her flannels tried on. “But we assume it had to be a girl and a guy at least because there is no way a small girl could fit into that flannel, and kick in my roommate’s door with a master padlock,” Witzenbocker added.
The surprising thing Witzenbocker said was that the possible burglars overlooked a lot of things worth taking. “My roommate’s Adderall, which is prescribed to her, was touched but they didn’t take it,” Witzenbocker said. “They overlooked a lot of things like my roommate’s rent money left on her table. So we’re assuming it was at night with flashlights, because of how many things were overlooked.”
One of Witzenbocker’s roommates, senior Taylor Azarian said she was preparing to come home and see everything taken. “When I got back the cops had just left and Ashley was there so she helped me bring stuff in, but we were both freaked out,” Azarian said. “I went into my room and at first glance I was like, ‘Oh, they didn’t take my TV, that’s strange.’ I opened my jewelry box and there was nothing in it.”
“I had pounds [currency] left from when I went to England, and they stole about 60 pounds which makes no sense,” Azarian added.
The girls are already taking precautions to help protect themselves over the winter break. Witzenbocker said their landlord has double checked all the windows to make sure they’re locked, as well as added a padlock to the back porch door. She said the girls will also be bringing home anything they want to keep. “I’m really glad people are talking to us about it because you never really think you are going to be burglarized until it happens, and it’s such an invasive feeling,” Witzenbocker said. “Nothing really was taken of mine but I can’t even go in my closet. The thing is for me when the lights are off, it’s so scary at night because it’s like wow, people were standing right here and going through my stuff.”
KSC junior Alexandra Mooers, who lives next to one of the houses on Elliot Street that was robbed, said that it can be so easy to break into your own house. “I’ve had to break into my house through my window and I’ve done it,” Mooers said. “Obviously the inside of the window has to be unlocked and it’s so easy to take your screen out. For doors if it’s not deadbolted then you can easily get a credit card through there.”
One safety precaution Corbett suggests for students is to call KPD and give them your information, tell them when the house will be empty, and ask if an officer could do checks on the house while you’re gone or you can ask your landlord to do this if they live close by.
Lindsey Arceci can be contacted at email@example.com