In the past few weeks, students at Wilfrid Laurier University have been experiencing a seemingly increased amount of break-ins, both on and off campus.
While both Special Constables and the Waterloo Regional Police have been constantly reminding students in all forms of student housing to be vigilant and lock their doors, not all of them seem to be listening.
Chris Hancocks, operations manager for Special Constables, said that the main reason for recent break-and-enters is because, generally, students don’t lock their doors, which criminals have come to expect.
“Some of these things are crimes of opportunity, [someone] will go up and try a door and if it’s open they’ll go in,” he explained. “We did a campaign over reading week with Special Constables here and we went through every residence building and checked every door, and it’s amazing how many doors we found open.”
A Residence Life don in WLU’s Leupold Residence, told The Cord she was unaware these campaigns would be happening, and has never been informed of any break-ins occurring in residence at all this year.
“I think everything in Res Life is hushed up, to be honest,” she said. “It’s a rock and a hard place because we want to respect confidentiality and we don’t want our students gossiped about . . . but I think that if break-and-enters are becoming popular, students need to be warned. “The fact that they don’t openly talk about this happening makes me think that they [Residence Life] don’t really want people to know,” she continued.
The don was also unaware that Special Constables had made three arrests in the past two weeks for break-ins as well as theft.
Hancocks explained that while these arrests were made — in a residence he could not name — the break-ins that occurred in Waterloo College Hall over Christmas break are still under investigation.
However, over reading week, the new apartment building at 167 King St. N. — primarily occupied by students — also experienced a break-in.
Early in the morning on Feb. 14, a white male broke into the apartment complex and stole some property. The suspect was confronted by a victim and later fled the scene on foot, leaving the victim uninjured.
On Feb. 25, Ryan Scheifele, a 21-year-old man, was arrested and charged with this recent break-in, along with another break-and-enter and theft that occurred at the same residence in November, 2012.
Brittany Downey, a fourth-year Laurier student who resides at the 167 King building but was not directly affected by the break-in, expressed that a large part of the reason why strangers get into the building is because of the buzzer.
“People just come in and they buzz every number, and I know a lot of people in the building that will just accept people in without asking,” she said.
The Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) had asked the community if they had any information regarding the identity of this person to contact them and reminded students to keep their doors locked and not let unknown people into their buildings.
“[Scheifele is] charged with a series of break-ins,” said Olaf Heinzel, the public affairs coordinator for WRPS.
Heinzel explained that the WRPS keeps their website page updated on all events like this in the “Latest News” section.
Scheifele was additionally charged with break-and-enter and theft/possession for a break in that happened in December at 125 Lincoln Rd. in Waterloo.
He remains in custody on all the outstanding charges.
When asked if she believed criminals targeted student areas because of the vulnerability they possess, Downey stated that she definitively thought it would be a target, especially due to the high rise of expensive apartment complexes being built around the Laurier and Waterloo campuses.
“It’s an easier target because [students] tend to be more careless,” she said.
Hancocks echoed these comments. “[Students show] absent mindedness [and] I think they’re in a rush to leave or they think their roommates are still home so they don’t lock the door,” he said.