By SHAWN DICKERSON
Over the past two weeks, a rash of burglaries have swept through several off-campus student housing complexes, a Provo police official said.
“There have been about 25 burglaries in the last two weeks,” said Lt. Greg Du Val of the Provo police department’s criminal investigation division.
The burglaries began about two weeks ago and since that time police have received reports of additional crimes every couple of nights at specific complexes, he said.
Du Val said burglaries have occurred at Crestwood Apartments, Branbury Park, Alta Apts., Raintree Apts., Liberty Square and complexes at 514 N. 100 East and 34 E. 700 North.
“At each complex there are usually about four or five burglaries,” he said. “A single group is probably responsible; often there is more than one suspect observed in an apartment.”
“Usually the target is cash; a lot of these people have $20 to $100 in a wallet or purse,” Du Val said. “Sometimes electronic items are taken.”
“(Those committing the crimes) are not trying to furnish or pawn items, they want something they can use quickly.”
Marcie Wettstein, a resident of Liberty Square, was the victim of one such burglary that occurred on a night last week around 1 a.m.
Wettstein said that she and her husband were in their bedroom when the burglar tried to shut an interior door that connected their kitchen to their vanity which was in turn connected to their bedroom.
As he shut the door, the burglar brushed up against a garbage can, and Wettstein said she told her husband she thought someone was in the apartment.
“As (my husband) opened the bedroom door he saw the front door shut,” she said. “Our CD player was gone.”
Wettstein said she and her husband called the police immediately. When officers arrived they told the couple there had been other problems in the complex.
On Monday, management at Liberty Square put out a notice to its tenants commenting about the burglaries and encouraging its residents to lock their doors and windows whenever they left their apartment or were sleeping, she said.
“Now, when we leave we lock all the windows and doors,” Wettstein said. “And if I’m home alone we lock all the windows and doors.”
Debra Allred, secretary of Miller Apartments, said there have been two burglaries recently at the complex and in both cases the tenants only left their apartments for about 20 minutes before returning to find items had been taken.
Du Val said he felt the crimes were probably the work of someone new in town or someone very desperate.
“They’re only going into unlocked apartments,” he said.
Du Val also said the burglars are finding a lot of opportunity at the complexes they’re choosing.
“If someone’s walking at 3 a.m. around a student complex, most people don’t question them,” he said. “They feel comfortable in the environment they’re making their burglaries in.”
“Students should lock their door and windows anywhere someone has access to them, whether they’re on ground level or a balcony.”
Du Val also said if a person encounters a burglar or realizes a burglary has occurred, they should contact the police immediately. There is little chance of solving this problem unless the police receive timely help.