As the temperature cools down, property crime in the City of Keene heats up.
On Jan. 6 at 5.30 p.m., a male suspect robbed the KM Campus Convenience store on the corner of Butler Court and Winchester Street.
The incident at Campus Convenience is not the only robbery that took place during the first week of 2013. According to the Keene Sentinel, two robberies registered at the North Street Market and in the Route 10 Mini Mart are both related with the Campus Convenience incident.
Keene State College Liaison Police Officer, Katie Corbett said that all of these convenience store robberies share a suspect. “He is believed to be a male subject with a dark-colored sweatshirt and dark-colored pants. At all of the incidents, the subject wore a face mask.”
Corbett commented that the subject entered Campus Convenience store and demanded all of the money. “The subject gestured that he had a gun but never actually took it out. He ran off with a couple hundred dollars,” the Keene Police Department officer said.
However, cashier Cal Merchant, who witnessed the robbery, commented something different. According to her, the suspect’s gun fell out of his pocket and onto the counter while he was at the register.
“We were taking inventory that night. Around 5:30 p.m. a man came in through the front door. At the time, I was standing in the front aisle. I turned around and knew instantly what was going to happen because he was wearing a facemask,” Merchant said.
According to Merchant, he went behind the register and told the store owner to open the register. The store owner gave the man all of the $20 bills, and then the suspect asked for all of the money.
Merchant explains that as the man went to grab the rest of the money, his gun fell out onto the counter. He grabbed the gun and the money and ran off.
Merchant added, “I remember slowly moving around the aisle with my head down thinking he could shoot me if I looked at him. For a moment, I thought of putting my hands up. I’ve never been around a gun in a violent situation like that. I looked up slightly and saw him run towards the bike path. The store owner called 911, and the police were here within 90 seconds.”
Aside from the robberies, several burglaries have occurred at off-campus student houses during Thanksgiving break and the winter intersession.
Junior Emily Ferlo who is moving off campus next year said, “I don’t think I will be as safe as would be on campus. I will definitely lock my doors whenever I am in the house and when I leave the house. The area where I am living is somewhat off the beaten path, and I am concerned about more crime there.”
According to the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy’s 2011 report, Keene is ranked third in the state for property crimes.
Corbett stated the reason why we have a higher crime rate is the size of Keene. She said, “We are one of the bigger cities in the area. If you look at Keene, there is nothing else around us of our size. The population in Keene triples every day because people are coming in to work at local businesses, shop or going to eat. When you add the college, the population is even greater.”
Corbett added, “Keene State [College] students contribute to the property crime rate both as victims and perpetrators. There is more criminal mischief and vandalisms because of college students as well as burglaries over school breaks.”
According to Corbett, over the past year, there have been 115 burglaries (22 KSC related), 11 robberies (3 KSC related), 350 thefts (15 KSC related) and 395 incidents of vandalism (40 KSC related).
Corbett commented, “We don’t have any statistics saying so, but a majority of the time, people are under the influence during burglaries. Usually, people committing burglaries have some sort of drug issue and they are trying to get their fix. They steal for necessity.”
Junior David Draper also took notice of the criminal activity over the break. He said, “I still feel really safe on campus. Campus Safety and the Keene Police do as good of a job as they can. Before these incidents, nothing significant has happened over the past two years I’ve been here, so my feelings on safety at the college haven’t changed.”
Senior Nicole Mayotte stated, “It was definitely scary when I got the call from campus safety over the break telling me what happened. It even made me a little nervous to come back to school. At the same time, people have to realize that these things can happen anywhere, and there is always a possibility of something going wrong.”
Although Keene’s property crime rate is high within the state, the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy’s 2011 report indicates that New Hampshire has the fourth lowest crime rate in the nation.
Matt Schwartz can be contated at email@example.com