Thief ransacks Chabad house

The New Haven Police Department on Sunday arrested a suspect in the theft of $1,000-$2,000 worth of electronics from the Edgewood Ave. house of Yale Chabad, an organization that espouses the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement.

Rabbi Shua Rosenstein, who founded the Yale branch of Chabad in 2001 and continues to direct the organization today, said he arrived at the house at 10 a.m. Sunday to find it completely ransacked. Responding to a call from Rosenstein, the NHPD dispatched officers to the house yesterday morning to dust for finger prints, but they were called back there soon after leaving when they received a call from an alarmed phone call from a next-door neighbor.

A computer was stolen from this desk at the Edgewood Ave. house of Yale Chabad on Sunday morning.
Emma Ledbetter
A computer was stolen from this desk at the Edgewood Ave. house of Yale Chabad on Sunday morning.

Brandi Coburn, a staff member for Yale Students for Christ who lives one door down, was washing dishes left over from lunch when she looked out a window over the sink in her first-floor kitchen. Coburn saw a man who looked “disoriented” enter the Chabad house through the back door at at around 12:15 p.m..

“At first, I just assumed that someone had let him in,” she explained. “I thought, ‘Maybe he’s a friend of the rabbi’s.’ “

But when her husband, Matthew Coburn, also a YSC staff member, went outside to check the door, he saw that it had been broken into. The Coburns immediately called the police, who apprehended the man.

Sgt. Marc Calafiore, who works in the NHPD’s detective bureau, said he did not have arrest information he could release Sunday evening. But both Brandi Coburn and Rosenstein said police had told them that the man they arrested had returned to the house to burglarize it a second time.

The burglar made it out of his first run through the Chabad house with a desktop computer, a stereo system and a cell phone. As of Sunday evening, none of the items had been recovered.

“He just made a mess,” Rosenstein said of the burglar. “He totally destroyed the house.”

Several students who frequent the Chabad house volunteered to help clean up that mess Sunday afternoon. Rosenstein said the house — which is used to host Yale Chabad events, including weekly Shabbat dinners prepared by Sara Rosenstein, the rabbi’s wife — is insured.

Many students learned about the incident through an 11:40 a.m. e-mail informing them that the regularly scheduled Chabad brunch had been cancelled, after which students rallied to help to clean the house.

Yale Chabad is not the only student group whose house has been burglarized recently. Members of the Baker’s Dozen a capella group returned from their spring-break tour in North Carolina early last Monday to find that someone had broken into their house, which is just a block down Edgewood and around the corner onto Dwight Street from Chabad.

A member of the group estimated the collective losses of the house’s five residents at about $20,000. City Hall and NHPD Spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga told the News last week that the BD house incident was still being investigated.

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