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Thieves burglarize student residences

Joseph McMahon | Thursday, January 17, 2008

For Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students in 10 residences at Clover Ridge Apartments and 11 at Stadium Club Condos, the fear of burglary became reality when thieves broke into their residences during winter break and stole several items, ranging from television sets to jars of change to pots and pans, managers at the housing complexes said.

Police investigated the rash of break-ins on Dec. 27. Kristie Nozykowski, the property manager for Clover Ridge Apartments, said “there was no rhyme or reason” to what thieves stole.

“They didn’t take a lot of stuff. In some of the apartments it looked like [the burglars] weren’t even there. They actually spent more time breaking in than they did stealing stuff,” Nozykowski said.

But she was still shocked by the break-ins, prompting Clover Ridge to hire additional security.

“We’ve never had any break-ins, but we have always had a police officer that lived on site,” Nozykowski said. “This is our first incident where we’ve had break-ins at Clover Ridge Apartments. Because our main goal is that they are happy and safe where they live, when the students are gone, we have added additional security.”

In addition, she said, the St. Joseph’s County Police Department has been conducting a full investigation.

“We did have detectives out and they got fingerprints on anything they could,” Nozykowski said.

South Bend police spokespeople did not return multiple Observer phone calls throughout the week.

Like Clover Ridge, Stadium Club – which had also never experienced any break-ins before this winter, according to property manager Susan Miller – has also taken additional steps to ensure the safety of its tenants.

Miller said the complex had a private security detail circulating its property during the break – but the thieves were able to elude it.

“We care about the security of the students at Stadium Club. And we’ve had around-the-clock security, but still the thieves were able to elude us. It’s just really frustrating,” Miller said.

In response to the burglaries, the complex has hired a new 24-hour security service, she said.

“After the break-ins we now have a new 24-hour security service that we will continue from now on. We’re also going to have a police officer living on the property,” she said.

Nevertheless, many students were upset with the way the situation was handled, and several Clover Ridge residents said their landlords should have done more to notify them of the burglaries.

“I had a missed call from Clover Ridge and I tried to contact the office but I wasn’t able to get through and they never called me back. It was only when I called my roommate that I found out when happened,” said senior Jordan Beltz, a Clover Ridge resident.

Beltz said he lost nearly $600 in stolen DVDs as well as $60 from his change jar. And while he was upset about the break-in and the material losses, he said he didn’t think there was much the complex could have done to prevent the burglary itself.

“On the security front, I really don’t think [the complexes] can do anything. It’s just bound to happen on winter break here,” he said. “But I think they could definitely improve how they notify people.”

Improving the students’ safety will continue to be a top priority, Miller said.

“We’re exploring every possible solution to make Stadium Club even more secure so that our students are protected. That’s our number one goal,” she said.

Nozykowski suggested students purchase renter’s insurance, “because you never know what’s going to happen.”