Intruder nabbed in Saybrook

Zurez Khan ’12 was up late studying in his common room Wednesday morning when a stranger walked in just before 6 a.m. He looked surprised to see Khan, and they made eye contact for an awkward moment.

“Hey, sorry, I meant to go to fifth floor,” the man said as he left, Kahn recalled.

Many students at Yale prop open the doors to their suites with clothing hangers for the purposes of convenience. But is it at the cost of security?.
Erica Cooper
Many students at Yale prop open the doors to their suites with clothing hangers for the purposes of convenience. But is it at the cost of security?.

But Khan did not believe him — the fifth floor is a suite of girls. So he called the police.

They found the intruder in the basement and arrested him. The suspect, 23-year-old Kevin Smith, has been charged with burglary, larceny and interfering with an officer. Police say Smith has prior arrests for similar crimes; he was convicted of larceny in August 2008.

“Smith is well known to YPD,” Lt. Steven Woznyk said. Nothing was taken and no one was hurt in the incident, he said.

The trespasser had been able to enter the room because it was propped open with a hanger. Doors left unlocked are the cause of most of Yale’s burglaries, Wozynk said. But all six Saybrugians interviewed said while the burglary concerned them, it is not enough to make them lock their doors.

Indeed, in the very entryway where the robbery occurred, hangers propped open five doors, and the lock on another door was taped over. Even the room that was robbed still had a hanger in the door Wednesday night.

In an e-mail about the incident to Saybrook students, Master Paul Hudak blamed what he called the “widespread” practice of keeping doors unlocked.

“We take your safety very seriously, but we need for you to do your part,” he wrote. “Please, lock your doors, and stay alert.”

But regardless of whether students lock their doors, the fact remains that before Smith even reached students’ rooms, he somehow got through Saybrook’s main entrance and the entryway door.

YPD would not comment on how Smith was able to get though the main entrance and entryway.

The University does not punish Yale students for leaving suite doors open and there are no plans to change that, said University Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith, who oversees campus security. But she added that students would prevent the vast majority of burglaries if they closed their doors.

“I’d like people to start taking more responsibility,” she said. “We don’t want to run around fining everyone.”

But Highsmith acknowledged that at its heart, the problem is one of convenience versus security.

“We’re just asking that students give up a little convenience for a lot more security,” she said.

Yale Security officers have been instructed to watch out for unlocked or open doors and to secure them immediately, she said.

“The burglary really scares me, but right now I keep my door propped open and I am going to keep it propped open,” said a Saybrook sophomore who did not wish to be identified because he is breaking the rules.

The number of larcenies on campus is up this year, Highsmith said Tuesday.


  • sy2010

    that unnamed saybrook sophomore is an idiot.

  • yalie

    Could he have been responsible for the multiple Branford robberies earlier this year? 2+2

  • BR 2011

    Students really have to take this more seriously and get out of the “it won’t happen to me” mentality. Believe me–coming face to face with someone who wanders into your suite on a false pretense when you’re the only one there and then filing a police report about it is not a good feeling.

  • ’10

    Can we get a mugshot of this guy?

  • wanderngaengus

    why is it so difficult to lock your door? i do not understand the need to keep it propped open? seems stupid to me.

  • WTF ?

    Lets say there are 250 door issues a day…which is very possible with a university of this size.
    $10 First offense = $ 912,500/year
    $20 Second offense = $ 1,825,000/year
    $50 Third offense = $ 4,562,000/year

    Then that money could help save some of the jobs of the people that wipe these students butts all day.

  • in your best interest

    This article suggests that many students are resistant to locking doors (and intend to continue in their ways), and the public nature of the YDN makes this one BIG advertisement for intruders.

    We’ll be locking our apartment/home doors for the rest of our lives. Grow up and get used to it.

  • yankees


  • Kevin

    How about posting a picture of this guy? If he has been arrested several times on campus, we need to know who this repeat criminal is.

  • Y11

    Maybe the administration should also remind us not to hold open doors into entryways for people we don’t know at odd hours. It might seem rude, but it protects everyone anywhere in the college, not just those in their rooms.

  • ES2010

    I think one of the issues with locking doors is the hassle that keys present. Admittedly, unlocking a door with a key takes between 1-7 seconds (depending on a few variables), but if you have to do that multiple times a day, every day of the week, for 9 months, for 4 years, it adds up. (Similarly, there is a general trend for people not to wear seatbelts in a car if they’re just driving down the street to a friend’s house or to the store.)

    The proximity swiper/scanner things have helped a lot. I’m not suggesting that every suite door have such a contraption, but it does help with keeping the doors secure.

    Perhaps suite doors could be equipped with an alarm that goes off if the door is propped open? That certainly prevents people from propping entryway doors open…

  • Anonymous

    We should experiment with using a keycard swipe for dorm rooms in addition to entryways.

  • y 10

    Why are there larceny charges? Am I missing something??

  • je99

    The residents already prop open doors whther they are operated by key or card swipe. They open fire doors with alarms. They tape over locks, stick cardboard in them, use tacks, anything and everything to get around the 2-7 second hassle of unlocking a door. Nothing will change until you institute fines for obvious security violations that endanger everyone else. The only other solution is to have one gate for entry and exit after hours with a person at it like other Ivy schools. No id, no entry- simple as that. Until either of these things is done, security is just a suggestion good for the occasional story in the YDN.

  • 5th floor


  • @Y11

    The problem with not holding doors for people we don’t know is that inevitably you’ll end up still holding the door for small asian females but not for big black men, even if you don’t know either of them. I’ve already heard black students complain about this phenomenon.

  • Rob S

    next is the police stating the burglar/larcenist had a right to walk onto the premises because the door was open.

  • Recent Alum

    #9: You can’t post a picture because that would reveal his race. This would be racist!!!

    On a more serious note, this illustrates that political correctness is not just an inconvenience, but presents real dangers to the community. How do you think the robber got access to the courtyard and the entryway, if not for someone else letting him in for fear of being accused of racism?

  • 11

    Why is it hard to lock your doors? You want to go out there to take care of the world and yet you can’t look after your own room? The security officials and all others work their butt off to keep you safe and yet you are too lazy to use your keys?
    If you can say “after all my own valuables are stolen and I will still keep my doors propped,” then fine.

  • Wake up Yalies

    Yalies are idealized because many come wealthy homes and fancy neighborhoods where crime is minimal. Despite the worldly experiences that Yalies may have, this “lets trust the world, no one will steal from me” only confirms my belief that most have yet to experienced the struggles and harsh realities of the people beyond the Yale bubble. Still, Yalies seem to think that other Yalies are in someways special, and not prone to theft. Well wake up, we are all human, we all succumb to greed, and yes, some of us steal.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the propped door fine.

  • grow up

    #11: There are a lot of hassles in life. Here are some that are worse than using your keys:

    — being beaten up by someone some other jerk let into the college

    — having your stuff stolen

    — going to visit a friend who was beaten up by someone some other jerk let into the college

    — being a woman who is terrified to walk around her college at night because of jerks who let people into the college

    I will leave aside being raped. I hope you get the point. Your childish attitude could cost your friends and classmates property, injury, life.

    grow up

  • Recent Alum

    #21: Have you ever stopped to wonder why there are “jerks who let people into the college”? Why, exactly, would someone let in an unknown New Havener into a college courtyard? It’s not that they don’t very well realize this could be a robber; more likely is that they know odds that it is a Yalie v. robber are about 50-50%, and they don’t want the PC mob to go after them for racism in the event they deny entry to an actual student.

    Locking your door is common sense when you live in an apartment that has its own bathroom. In Yale residential colleges with bathrooms outside the suite, this is just not practicable. On the other hand, not letting in strangers who are likely not to even be Yale affiliated is just common sense.

  • guy

    As a grad student, I don’t have access to the colleges, though sometimes my professors have offices there. So, I have to rely on students to let me in. I’ve never had a student hesitate to let me in, and I don’t have any friends who have any troubles either–except a black friend, who has been denied several times. I guess I should feel bad about that, but then, as “Recent Alum” points out, you can just assume all criminals are not white, and you have to act on that assumption.

  • wondering

    What about the rooms within JE suites that don’t have locks at all. And no locks will be installed even when requested.
    Good thing we bought that extra insurance policy.

  • y11 again

    @guy and recent alum

    If you read what I wrote, I specified entryways, and at odd hours. I don’t know why most grad students would frequently need access to undergraduate entryways at odd hours. If you are meeting people, you can call them to let you in.

    As for inherent racism, I guess I think that means we should be more vigilant about not letting in everybody even if they don’t fit any dangerous stereotype, instead of just opening up our doors for anyone.

    I have to admit, however, that the as a female, I am more concerned about male intruders than female intruders for obvious reasons.

  • guy

    Y11–Yeah, I wasn’t responding to you.

  • sy12

    @Recent Alum

    honestly. taking your keys with you, even to the bathroom, is NOT THAT DIFFICULT, and definitely not an impractical.
    thinking that locking your doors is an unbearable hassle is just being really lazy, and in light of these recent thefts, just plain stupid.

  • BR10

    Thank you sy12! What are these people going to do when they live in a real apartment? Prop their door open when they do laundry or make a grocery run?

    Seriously people. Stop being lazy and bring your keys to the bathroom.

  • JE 12

    i’d just like to say that zachary pearlman marks has been lurking in saybrook entryway c for weeks.

  • JE ’10

    Indeed, the whole propping open suite doors thing is ridiculous.

    As for letting people into the colleges, I feel that people haven’t talked about that scenario as it actually happens. It’s not as if while you’re approaching your college, you see someone just standing by the gate and then decide whether or not to let them in, because clearly someone who’s just hanging around a Yale gate waiting to be let in is not a Yale undergrad.

    The more likely situation is that someone approaches the gate at the same time as you and you just hold the gate open for them for two seconds out of politeness. People don’t normally check i.d.’s when they’re trying to be nice and hold the door open. Similar situations happen with entryway doors.

    Anyway, all this is to say that since it is so easy to surreptitiously penetrate the college, people should really, really keep their rooms looked. I mean, come on people.