Two Saturdays ago, Haley Barton was out with her friends.
When she came back to her room in Chatham Hall half an hour later, her keys were missing.
“Don’t worry about it, you must have just forgot where you put them,” said a friend.
They kept looking and Barton realized that her pile of change was gone from her desk. Her friends again reassured her that it was probably just somewhere else in the room.
But when they realized that her laptop was gone and her roommate’s laptop was thrown on the ground, they knew someone must had broken in.
They rushed to the parking lot to find Barton’s car missing too.
“At that point I started freaking out. We called the police in the lobby and an RA helped me. Twenty to 25 minutes later, the cops came and took our
statements,” said Barton, a first-year student.
While the cops were investigating the room, they realized there was no screen in the window and Barton’s kettle was missing.
A cop went outside to see that her kettle and screen were on the ground below. That is when they realized the thief came through the window.
“My window and blinds were open and my laptop was on my desk. They must have seen my laptop and since I’m on the first floor, they were able to come in,” she said.
At Chatham, there are woods near the dorm and Barton’s room is at the back of the building. There are also no security cameras in the parking lot of the off-campus residence.
“At first it freaked me out that someone was in my room, looking through all my stuff. I was just really shocked because I am from a small town where we all leave our windows open at night and no one would ever come in and steal something,” said Barton.
“I was too afraid to sleep that first night. My key to my room and Chatham Hall were on my car keys and I thought that the thief would come back.”
The next day, maintenance came and changed the locks to Barton’s room. They also put in window stoppers so no one would be able to fit through again.
They didn’t change the locks to the whole residence, but they did make a plan to put window stoppers on all the first floor rooms.
Chatham residence advisors also called a mandatory house meeting the day after the break-in to notify students that there was a theft and to remind residents to keep their windows and doors locked.
They were also warned to be careful with keys.
Bruce Rogerson, director of campus security at the University of New Brunswick, says the theft is not the first.
At UNB during the beginning of the school year, there were a lot of laptops stolen. The thefts aren’t only occurring in Fredericton, he said, but all over Canada.
The problem, Rogerson said, is that anyone can look like a student and just “piggy-back” behind someone, go into an unlocked dorm room and take whatever they want.
Thieves know at the beginning of the year “students come back with new technology, books, laptops, iPods and new toys that they can get their hands on,” said Rogerson.
“I think that there needs to be a campus watch system facilitated by students to look after one another.
Dorm rooms should be locked at all times. [Students] shouldn’t assume that everyone lives there or won’t steal it.
“People with money problems or substance abuse problems will take advantage and steal if doors are open. The more security you have in your room, the better.”
Rogerson also said there is a fulltime security officer on duty 24/7 at both STU and UNB. If something happens, someone will be there to help.
Rogerson also suggests students download a security program for laptops from campus security available to STU and UNB students.
If someone’s laptop is missing, the program makes it possible to lock down their laptop from another computer, so no one can access its information.
“The more students who do this, the chances of recovery or even prevention of theft would be better.”
As for Barton, the break-in was a terrible experience she will never forget, but says she will use it as a learning experience.
“I’m not letting this one experience affect my whole first year at STU. It doesn’t change how much I like it here,” she said.