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NDSP makes arrest for reported burglaries

Bill Brink | Thursday, April 10, 2008

Notre Dame Security/Police (NDSP) arrested one man and questioned another in relation to reports of burglary and suspicious activity on campus Tuesday, a statement released by NDSP reported.

NDSP assistant director Dave Chapman said in a phone interview that it is not known whether the incidents are related to the recent burglaries in Lyons and Howard Halls.

Around 10:50 a.m. Tuesday, the statement said, a call to NDSP reported that a man may have stolen a cell phone from an office in Stepan Chemistry center. The caller lost sight of the suspect, the statement said, and did not know if he left the building. NDSP officers searched the area and eventually stopped the suspect as he left the building. He had a laptop computer under his shirt that belonged to a professor, the statement said, and the professor later identified the laptop. The suspect was arrested for burglary and taken to the NDSP building, and later to the St. Joseph’s County Jail.

Two other cell phones and another laptop were still missing, the statement said. Chapman said it was still unknown who took them.

South Bend police were contacted because of the suspect’s believed involvement in off-campus thefts, the statement said.

The stolen laptop belonged to Chris Kolda, a physics professor. He said he left his office for five minutes and left the door open. NDSP contacted him, he said, to see if his computer was missing. When he returned to his office, his laptop was gone.

Police told Kolda, who never saw the thief, that they caught the suspect, he said.

“I was very happy with Notre Dame security,” Kolda said. “Nothing like getting your computer back before you know it was stolen.”

Police picked out the suspect because he was wearing rosary beads, which looked out of place, Kolda said. He also said NDSP said the burglar matched previous descriptions and that they had been searching for him for three weeks.

NDSP found Kolda’s computer on the suspect’s person, he said, and the suspect had stolen laptops and cell phones before.

At around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, NDSP received another phone call reporting suspicious behavior by a man between Badin and Howard Halls. When NDSP responded, they found the suspect walking towards the Rockne Building and stopped him for questioning. The man matched the “general description” of the suspect seen in residence halls at the time of recent burglaries. He was not, however, seen in any dorm on Tuesday, and “could not be detained,” the statement said. NDSP gave him a No Trespass Notice.

NDSP is looking for a link between the arrest and detainment Tuesday and recent burglaries in residence halls, Chapman said.

“Right now, we haven’t found [a link], but that doesn’t mean that there’s not [one],” he said.

Residents of Lyons and Howard hall reported laptops and wallets stolen between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. last week. The burglaries in Howard took place on April 1, and the burglaries in Lyons happened on March 26.

The suspect in both cases has been described by “several people” as a black male, between 5-foot-8 and 5-foot-11, with a thin build, “frizzy long black hair” in a pony tail or braid, possibly bad or missing teeth and possibly sporting facial hair stubble, NDSP director Phil Johnson said last Monday.

NDSP learned that Valparaiso University has experienced similar burglaries with a suspect whose description matched that of the suspect in Notre Dame’s recent campus robberies, Johnson said last week.

Claire Reising contributed reporting to this story.