At least six off-campus houses and one on-campus apartment housing Georgetown students were burglarized between Thanksgiving break and Dec. 4, law enforcement officials said.
Thieves stole laptops in at least six of the incidents and after one burglary, a Metropolitan Police Department incident report accused Department of Public Safety officers of leaving a crime scene “contaminated.”
Mark Ipri (COL ’05) said his house on the 1300 block of 36th street was burglarized sometime between his departure for Thanksgiving on Nov. 24 and his return on Nov. 28.
“I got back on campus late on Saturday and I knew I had locked my door before I had left but the door was unlocked when I came back,” he said. “Nothing seemed weird at first but I found two laptops had been stolen. I called DPS first and the police came too.”
According to Ipri, when MPD officers arrived, they told him that the DPS officers had touched the crime scene making it impossible to obtain fingerprints.
“Metro basically said that DPS screwed it up,” he said.
In an MPD incident report, the responding officer wrote that “the crime scene was contaminated by Georgetown Police and the complainant before I arrived to the scene.”
But David Morrell, Georgetown’s vice president for university safety, said DPS officers had acted appropriately.
“This is news to DPS and the first time we’ve been made aware of this concern,” he said. “What I’d say is the actions of the officers and DPS did not lead to contamination of any evidence.”
The incident report said that two laptops worth $2,600 were stolen from the residence.
Another burglary occurred sometime between Nov. 26 and Nov. 28 at an Alumni Square apartment according to an MPD incident report.
One resident of the apartment, Laura Ryan (COL ’07), said the door had been locked when her apartment was burglarized.
“We came back after Thanksgiving break and someone had stolen three laptops and two backpacks,” she said. “There was no evidence of forced entry and the university kept telling us it had to be someone who we knew who broke in.”
Another apartment resident, Katherine Tucker (COL ’07), said that the Office of Housing and Residence Life was charging them to change their locks because “there was no evidence of forced entry.”
“I wish they would acknowledge that something happened,” she said. “This is not the only case. They could just say they’re sorry and tell us what they’re doing.”
Tucker said she was disturbed that the university had not sent out a public safety advisory about their apartment’s burglary. But Morrell said that the university would not release further advisories about recent burglaries unless “we have specific additional info that would help identify the perpetrators.”
University spokeswoman Laura Cavender said Monday that unless DPS determined that entry had been forced, the university would charge the apartment’s residents $50 to change their locks.
A third burglary took place between Nov. 25 and 27 when someone entered the university owned home of Hannah Russin (SFS ’05) on the 3600 block of Prospect Street and stole two laptops, a backpack, leather coat and jewelry.
“Our door was originally locked so we think someone picked the front door lock,” Russin said.
According to law enforcement officials, the other burglaries occurred Nov. 29 on the 1200 block of 33rd St., Dec. 1 on the 3700 block of R Street, Dec. 2 on the 1700 block of 37th Street and Dec. 4 on the 1400 block of 36th Street
Losses totaled more than $10,000, according to MPD reports.
The recent incidents coincide with a recent spike in residential burglaries throughout northwest D.C.
Since September, reported burglaries within MPD’s second district, of which Georgetown is a part, have increased by 168 percent. According to MPD statistics, there were 25 reported burglaries in September, 38 in October and 67 in November.
DPS Director Darryl Harrison said Monday that although there was an unusual spike in crime at the beginning of the semester, reported crime usually increases during the holiday period.
For his part, Morrell said that the university was taking action to reduce crime on and around campus. He said that DPS would be increasing patrols in problem spots and that the university was placing flyers on student guard desks urging students to lock their doors over the Christmas break.
Although Morrell acknowledged that multiple burglaries had occurred around campus this semester, he emphasized that recent security improvements at LXR had reduced crime there.
– HOYA Staff Writers Kenny Martin, Vidhya Murugesan and Eric Rodawig contributed to this report.