Sammy Westfall

A man broke into an off-campus house on Lynwood Place while students were home on Monday night, leading to a minor confrontation with a student. Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins sent out a Yale Alert two hours later reporting the break-in and confrontation incident to the Yale community.

Four Yale seniors were sitting in a room watching basketball on TV when one of them, Larry Fulton ’19, heard a loud bang coming from outside. He almost did not check what had happened, but when he walked into the foyer, he saw that the house’s front door had been completely flung open.

“We heard one big bang which means he probably just did it with one kick,” said Fulton.

The front door has two panels: one door panel opens for entry and exit, while the other always remains shut by a sliding latch coming from the door into the wall. However, both side panels of the door were wide open at the time of the incident. The wood surrounding the lock was clearly damaged -— evidence of physical force from the break-in.

Fulton then heard loud stomps coming from upstairs, which he suspected did not belong to his fifth housemate, who had been on the house’s top floor.

Fulton called up, “Who is it, and what are you doing here?”

The man, who seemed middle-aged, promptly came down the stairs and apologized, saying that he was looking for his friend “Keith, for a frat party,” and then left the house. The man who broke in had not touched anything in the house, said Fulton.

Higgins, though, reported the incident as a “burglary” to the community by Yale Alert.

Fulton and his roommates assumed that the man who broke into the house went to the second floor because one housemate found two bloody tissues on his floor that he did not think he had left there.

After the men left, the students called the New Haven Police Department. Yale Police Department officers showed up first and asked a series of questions. Then, NHPD officers arrived a few hours later and “asked the same questions,” said Fulton.

According to the Yale Alert sent by Higgins, the YPD increased patrols in the area and the NHPD opened an investigation.

As of Tuesday evening, Fulton and his housemates have not heard back from the NHPD with any news but were given an NHPD case number.

Fulton also mentioned that he and his housemates heard that the same night, the same person broke into the Sigma Chi fraternity house, which is located nearby. According to Fulton, upon speaking to people who lived in the house, the person who broke in told the residents the same thing — that he was looking for his friend for a frat party. In both cases, the man did not take anything.

Members of Sigma Chi who live on Lynwood did not respond for comment.

The landlord sent someone the next day to repair the door by nailing the damaged door panel shut.

“Security-wise, I just think that clearly this is a case where someone was going door to door. It didn’t really seem like he was super malicious,” said Fulton. “So, myself personally, I’m not super concerned with getting a suspect.”

According to Fulton, the most important thing is that he and those that he lives with have a functioning door at the front of the house.

Nick Hernandez ’19, who lives a few houses down from the house broken into, did not notice any commotion in the area Monday night. However, when he received the Yale Alert, he double-checked the window locks in his room, as well as both the front and back doors of his home.

Hernandez told the News that he was surprised about the break-in, though, as he previously considered Lynwood to be “a fairly safe part of New Haven given its proximity to campus.”

He hopes that Yale takes the incident seriously, as many students live on the block. Though he is not sure an easy fix exists, he suggested that Yale install Blue Phone safety systems — brightly-lit exterior phones with an emergency call button for direct communication with the Yale Police — at off-campus areas with a high volume of undergrads.

There are 400 Blue Phones “strategically located” throughout campus, according to the Yale website. In a map published by Yale, the majority of the lights cluster around Yale residential buildings and classrooms, while a few are located at public locations like the Air Rights Garage and CT Medical Health Center.

Sammy Westfall | sammy.westfall@yale.edu