This article has been revised to reflect the version that appeared in print on Jan. 26.
Over the past week, Yale has seen a flurry of criminal and law enforcement activity on campus.
On Jan. 15, Michael Cruciger ’15 had his laptop stolen from his Trumbull College common room in entryway J. Another student in the same entryway reported his wallet missing, and Axell Meza ’16 said an unknown man entered his common room claiming to be looking for “Josh.” On the same night, Kartik Srivastava ’17 said that while he was sleeping, his wallet was taken from a desk no less than a foot from his person, and his suitemate’s checkbook was taken. Transactions had been made on Srivastava’s debit card, and his suitemate’s checks had been cashed, he said.
Several days later, laptops and an iPad were stolen from a suite in Lanman-Wright Hall, the freshman residence for Berkeley and Pierson colleges.
Then, on Saturday afternoon, another pair of students in Trumbull encountered an intruder in their suite. Although the Yale Police Department reported that they had arrested a suspect in connection with the Saturday afternoon intruder in the Trumbull College suite, they initially targeted the wrong individual. Later that day, Tahj Blow ’16, son of New York Times columnist Charles Blow, was confronted at gunpoint by a YPD officer because he allegedly matched the description of the suspect, according to Charles Blow’s Twitter page. Tahj Blow declined to comment, and Charles Blow could not be reached for comment.
“Entryway doors should not be propped or have the lock taped over. These are basic issues that every student knows and, frankly, that most ignore,” Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway said in an email. “We need to do better on this issue. Students should not hesitate to call the YPD or campus security if they are uncertain about individuals in their courtyards, entryways or hallways.”
Trumbull Master Margaret Clark said she had not previously encountered similar levels of criminal activity since assuming the mastership in 2013. Clark added that she would be visiting individual Trumbull suites Saturday evening to discuss the importance of campus safety with students and ensure that no hangers are being used to prop open doors.
The suspect had entered the suite of Nicholas Goel ’16 and Ian Gonzalez ’16, a former copy editor for the News. Goel said he was sitting in his common room Saturday afternoon when a man he had never before seen entered his bedroom. He and his suitemate confronted the man. The intruder said he was looking for a friend and then immediately walked out.
“We yelled at him, and I think it scared him off,” Goel said. “He left mumbling, pretty flustered and pretending to be on the phone.”
Gonzalez said they immediately called the police, and within five minutes, they saw a police presence on Elm Street looking for the intruder.
According to an email sent to the Trumbull community by Clark, the intruder had fled the residential college and, following behind some other students, entered Berkeley College.
Both Gonzalez and Goel said the description of the man who entered Meza’s suite given to police authorities last week matched the description of the man they encountered Saturday evening.
“Given that the previous incidents were also in this entryway both directly above our suite and across from our suite on the same floor, and that this man matched the description from the guys in the suite across from us … I’m confident it was the same person,” he said.
Clark said that she, along with Trumbull Dean Jasmina Beširevic-Regan, commended the students for their quick actions. She said the actions “almost certainly prevented thefts.” She also thanked the YPD for their quick responses in both cases.
A few days earlier, on Thursday, Pierson College freshman counselor Lindsey Hiebert ’15 sent an email to freshmen in her college informing them of a robbery that had occurred that afternoon in a Lanman-Wright Hall room.
Upon returning to the room, three freshmen discovered that all three of their laptops had been stolen, along with an iPad and a backpack, though other objects in the room, including a fourth laptop and a wallet, were not stolen.
“All of the doors on the floor are open so it’s surprising that they only came in ours,” said Neema Githere ’18, who had her laptop stolen. “What’s really surprising is that they took my phone charger and notebooks out of my backpack before taking it.”
The theft was immediately reported to Yale Security, which then referred the students to the YPD. The case is still open.
The students were informed that Yale Security would check the swipe lock on the entryway in order to determine who came into the building within the time frame. However, in a Friday email to the News, University Spokesperson Tom Conroy said that no leads had developed in the case.