The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Kramer hires off-campus security

Jenn Metz | Monday, November 19, 2007

South Bend landlord Mark Kramer hired a private security company Friday to patrol his more than 150 properties after recent car break-ins.

“We’ve had some car break-ins and one is too many as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “I just haven’t had much cooperation with the police department when we’ve had problems. … Safety is very important, so I made the decision to hire a private company.”

Kramer said the recent break-ins that prompted him to hire the company took place at his properties on Corby Street and on North St. Peter’s Street, near Washington Street. He said he could not give a number of break-ins.

“I don’t know exactly how many there have been,” he said. “I don’t necessarily hear of them right away.”

The security company, Majestic Security, Inc., is based in South Bend. Security detail will patrol Kramer properties between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. every day – “peak crime hours,” Kramer said.

“With breaks coming up and the students being gone, we’re concerned about safety,” he said. “We try to patrol [the properties] ourselves, but it’s not easy for my staff to be at all places at all times. … This is the most economical and sensible way to do it.”

During the specified time period, each house will be visited a minimum of seven times, with security personnel exiting their vehicles periodically. The personnel will be armed and authorized to apprehend any suspicious persons, Kramer said, and will immediately call the police to make an arrest.

There will be no additional cost to tenants.

Kramer said the security company began to patrol Lafayette Square Friday night.

“We will get detail on all the properties Monday,” he said. “I wanted to make sure they were in place before Thanksgiving.”

Car break-ins are a citywide issue, Kramer said, and hiring the security company is “taking a proactive approach to it.”

Kramer said he initially contacted the South Bend Police Department and talked to off-duty police officers who offered a service for a cost, “but they were not able to patrol for the length of time I thought was necessary.”

“Burglary and larceny have been an issue up in the student areas for as long as Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students have lived off campus,” said Capt. Phil Trent, public information officer for the South Bend Police Department. “Unfortunately, it is abundantly clear to criminals when students are going to be in town and out of town.”

Burglaries tend to spike when students go away from their property for any length of time, he said.

“Our department goes to great lengths to educate about leaving valuables in your residence … just general crime prevention efforts,” Trent said. “Vehicle break-ins are not just a Notre Dame thing, they’re a community thing. … If you’re going to leave your vehicle, leave it as sterile as possible.”

Kramer said he hired Majestic Security because he has seen consistent service and protection effect change on crime rates.

“It will send a clear message,” he said.

Trent said he found it difficult to imagine a situation “where because there’s private security presence there’s not going to be any crime.”

“It’s nice to have an extra set of eyes out there, but you can’t eradicate in 100 percent. In the sense of an apartment complex, or rental homes all in a row, if there’s security there, they think they’re not going to be burglarized if there’s a presence,” he said. “There needs to be a constant presence. That’s not going to happen. There are still going to be crimes.”

Though the use of a security company is not a “foolproof solution,” Kramer said he thinks its presence will help deter crime on his properties.

“These criminals – whatever you want to call them, they might be kids – obviously are going to notice there’s patrols going on. It will push them away from my houses. They’re going to stay away,” he said.

Kramer will be posting signs on all of his properties to “make it apparent that there’s patrols going on,” he said.

He said he thinks it is still safe to live off campus, regardless of break-ins.

“In the 15 years that I’ve been involved in off-campus housing, I’ve never had any of the students harmed in any way. There’ve been break-ins, but in terms of violence I’ve not have that experience, and I’m going to thank God for that. We just need to take additional precautions to make sure its safe,” Kramer said.

In addition to the presence of security personnel, Kramer said his properties are lighted adequately and are equipped with alarm systems. However, the students living in the properties must also take the initiative to keep themselves safe, he said.

“They’ve got to put the alarms on, leave lights on over break, when they park they’ve got to make sure their belongings are secure and their cars are not temptations,” he said. “It is a dual effort between myself and my tenants.”

Kramer owns or manages 90 houses, 30 town houses at Lafayette, 44 apartments at Notre Dame Apartments and six condos at East Race Condominiums.

He said the feedback he’s received from tenants has been thankful and positive.

Senior Delphine Risto lives in a Kramer house on Washington Street. She said she was concerned by recent car break-ins.

“My roommate’s car was broken into during the day last Sunday,” she said. “I am happy that Kramer has decided to hire a security guard to patrol the neighborhoods because it could possibly deter future break-ins.”

She still worries about crime in her neighborhood, however.

“The patrol will only be during the night, which won’t help the students who have dealt with break-ins during the day,” she said.

Risto said home security systems alone are sometimes not good enough.

“Hopefully the new security patrol will help,” she said. “but I guess we will just have to wait and see.”