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Opinion: Off-campus break-in a nightmare realized

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I was on my way to my friends’ house on 9th Avenue after the Ohio State game against Cincinnati when I got a call from my roommate’s boyfriend.

He asked me when I was last at my house. He and my roommate had just gotten back and the door was wide open.

To be honest, even though I hadn’t been at my house since 1:30 p.m. and it was now about 10, I was only a little bit concerned. I try not to get too worried about things like this to prevent myself from overreacting, so I just told him to call me when they had talked to my other roommate. Maybe she’d gone home after the game — I knew her parents were in town, and it seemed reasonable that they might’ve stopped by and accidentally left the door open while they ran to the car.

But then he called me back what felt like less than a minute later. 

My door had been kicked in and at least our TV had been stolen.

Panic set in. 

I ran home, the police were there, we filed a report and our landlord came to “temporarily” fix the door frame. The police told us we have to be extra careful, especially because we’re three women living there — as if there was anything we could’ve done to be more careful besides locking the door. Our landlord rambled on for an hour about campus crime and how really nothing can be done to prevent this from happening — as if we were supposed to then feel safe sleeping in a house that clearly doesn’t have enough locks on it.

My laptop, which was upstairs in my room that doesn’t have a lock — but at least the door was closed! — was taken along with its charger. And the TV, which was my roommate’s, is gone.

Mostly, I’m angry. And stressed. And scared.

I never realized what an invasion of privacy it is to have your house broken into. To sit in your living room with the blatant absence of a TV and know someone was there just a few hours earlier taking it. To go into your room and see your laptop gone and your closet door open and know someone you probably don’t know was in there that day.

It’s pretty much a nightmare realized.

Especially when you take into account that there isn’t anything else we could’ve done beyond locking our doors and windows (which we had), and the fact that these break-ins happen a lot.

In fact, just last week The Lantern ran a story about break-ins around campus. There had been 47 burglaries in the off-campus area between July 24 and Sept. 21, Columbus Police Deputy Chief Thomas Quinlan said. He called it “a stunning increase from last year,” and said that almost all of them happened in houses with unlocked doors or windows where the thieves let themselves in.

I edited that story. Texted my friends to be safe and lock their doors. Didn’t really consider my own situation because my roommates and I are all on top of it when it comes to locking up.

Yet here I am.

It makes me think landlords need to do more. Mine is now replacing my crappy door, which I think is some kind of wood, with a steel one. But why didn’t we have that kind of door in the first place?

And because I live in an apartment complex, why isn’t there at least one camera watching the alley?

And how did someone take off with our TV without someone else stopping them or at least calling the police?

I have an endless number of questions and I feel like none of them will be answered anytime soon. So for now, as the police told me, we just have to be extra careful.

Whatever that means.

15 comments

  1. Back in the seventies, a campus-area apartment with no bars on the windows was extremely rare. Car radios and batteries were often stolen, as well as stereos and bicycles. I knew people who were robbed at gunpoint by passing cars while walking on the street. You want to get in your landlord’s face, but campus thefts are relatively rare now. I hope you had renter’s insurance, which I was refused back when I was a student here. Now you can get it.

  2. There needs to be more police presence on and around campus to deter all criminal activity. When is the University going to step up and put more money into their police force!! This is about student safety!! Let OSU show other universities how to keep their campus safe!! The time is now!

  3. I was watching HGTV one day and the daughter was house hunting with her mother because a campus break in scared her. She admitted though roommates let strangers in for parties etc. I told this story to say when my buckeye grad told me of break ins with fellow students the first thing I always asked “Was the apt a hang out site for everyone?” College students are targets because criminals think they have rich well to do families who can easily afford to replace items. Guess what recently my daughter’s friend at Howard University had his apt robbed and he said to her “My roommates kept strangers in and out constantly with parties etc.!” Sadly students be mindful of your neighbors etc. A lot of jealousy/envy. I told my daughter no way in h@ was she going to live in a dangerous neighborhood around Osu just to save on rent!!!! Her life is PRICELESS….

  4. As a proud Alumna, I would love nothing more than for my nieces, nephews and younger cousins to follow in my footsteps by attending Ohio State. The increasing crime on and near campus however is concerning. Not only do the Landlords need to step up with increased security measures (cameras, security systems, better doors), but the University also needs to address this issue. OSU needs to work with the CPD and force the Landlords to up their security measures to keep the students safe if they want to operate near campus. The streets need to be cleaned up. I know we are in a large city, however, Ohio State needs to be a smaller community within the city of Columbus and take pride in that even in our off campus housing. Clean up those streets and apartment complexes! The safety of the students needs to be the first priority.

  5. Make sure your landlord uses high security deadbolts and long screws when attaching the strike plate and door throw plate to the door. You may be getting a steel door but your frame is still wood, unless he replaces that with steel as well. If he doesn’t take measures to make it difficult to kick the door in with longer screws, a break-in can still happen. There should be a locking handle and a SEPARATE deadbolt.

  6. I live on McMillen Ave. Right next to the Short North/Northside library. The first week in my new apartment as I left for the gym I noticed a gentleman sitting on one of the staircases. Not even thinking twice, I continued on my way to the gym. Sure enough, I return home to find my apartment had been broken into a little over $2,000 of possessions stolen. I have been informed that I am not the only victim in my apartment complex.

    There is constant unscrupulous activities occurring right outside my apartment front door. Most of it, idiots lighting up a blunt right outside my door, but in some cases, it seems the person is just waiting for people to leave their apartments. I now run late to work and class simply because I will not leave my apartment while unscrupulous people are just hanging out outside my door. If I would have known the propensity of drug addicts and bums to hang outside my door, I never would have signed this lease.

  7. The same night of said crime reported in the above story my roommate had a laptop and several wallets (which were his friends visiting from out of town) stolen from his locked room at some point during a party. Someone even had the audacity to come back around 4am and steal an entire couch from our home. A police report was filed, the laptop was tracked down to a household via Find My Mac (a GPS program), and there was still nothing the police could do to retrieve it because of all the red tape. Perhaps this is an area where the law needs to catch up with the technology? First of all, if anyone has any information about any of these crimes it would be greatly appreciated. As for the commenter named “alum” above: campus thefts unfortunately are NOT relatively rare. I have had three friends have laptops stolen in the past two weeks and know several others who have encountered other issues this year. There really does seem to be an increase in both crimes and thefts this year, for whatever reason.

  8. Renters Insurance and a security alarm on all doors and ground floor windows. Even if the system isn’t wired to a monitoring company, if you have door/window position sensors and glass break sensors wired to an ear-slitting siren, you’re better off than having nothing.

  9. Responsible student

    This girl could not sound more ignorant YOU LEFT YOUR DOOR WIDE OPEN! Not Even unlocked but open! Stop blaming other people (landlords) for your problems and lack of responsibility. Maybe now you’ve learned your lesson to keep your doors locked at all times. It is absolutely ridiculous to request cameras on campus around the alleys. People will still break in when your doors unlocked. Welcome to College!

  10. Can you read? The door was kicked wide open, it wasn’t left that way.

  11. In 2010 I had my laptop stolen (along with my roommates’ at the time) around 1:00 in the AFTERNOON on 17th Ave. They had perfectly timed when the last roommate left (aka scoping the joint). My little sister (who is tiny) was held up at gunpoint in 2011 near our apartment on 13th & Summit. Off-campus is legitimately dangerous, filthy, and scary.

  12. Lol @ reponsible student

    Responsible student, maybe you should try a class in reading comprehension. Welcome to college!

  13. The root word in “Personal Safety” is PERSON. As in, it’s *your* responsibility to secure yourself and your belongings. If nothing else, home camera setups are quite inexpensive, and you can have the data stored offsite for very cheap (such as through DropBox or Amazon Web Services).

    YOU were the one who signed the lease with the landlord. Now you want to shift blame onto them? If the lack of cameras and steel doors was such a problem “in the first place”, then why did you sign your lease “in the first place”?

    Listen, I’m sorry for what you’re going through, but you and your generation need to stop shirking responsibility and take some accountability. Nobody is forcing you to live there.

    Get a cheap camera setup, get a German Shephard, lock your stuff in a safe, or don’t live in a high-crime area. Otherwise, you eventually get what you pay for.

  14. Sorry for your situation. I understand EVERYTHING about what you say. My home was broken into a year ago and it had an alarm system, plenty of locks, a great neighborhood etc. they took all my jewelry, valuable or not. What I want to tell you is it may not matter how much security you have, you can still face this. It rattles you like nothing else can, not just the loss of possessions but one’s sense of personal security. I am not letting this rule my life but I am more proactive with my precautions. My best to you.

  15. If this seems like overposting, I generally publish when I’ve been assaulted, or when my privacy is ignored, or when my cats cry out in pain by some assault of government. if you see three postings in a row, as sometimes happens, it just means i’ve been assaulted, or my cats assaulted, or my privacy invaded, three times lately. the other day it was a flash energy assault aimed at my temple/top of my head. literally thousands of such assaults over the past decade, I’m sure that estimate is accurate….the other day one of my cats was bleeding, hair missing from its back, and two of them actually had scabs and radiation bumps on their back as a result of being shot with energy weaponry. A cat that was hospitalized by energy attacks and food tampering less than a year ago was groaning in pain from energy attacks , and they’re induced to vomit constantly . for many years my cats were crying out in pain from energy attacks –several times a day over many years. they’re still being attacked, and are crawling with fleas despite the application of frontline or advantage products every few weeks–the community is actually putting bogus or weak products on the market in retaliation. they knocked one of my cats off a ledge the other day, 15 foot drop, and have induced another of my cats to run off twice, a cat that is very docile and usually doesn’t even want to go outside/agitated by being shot with energy weaponry. i contacted the aspca in 2007, and after that could only find work fundraising for abused animals, the community’s own form of symbolic punishment. not a bad job, though the idea that they manipulated my circumstance to this extent is ridiculous. My entire apt. is being heated by radiation, more than 10x the norm, causing my cats to noticeably sweat–you could probably measure it from space.
    The federal government of course has all the power in the world to stop it. My tooth was knocked out in increments, over a 2 year span by energy weaponry assaults, for stating and proving the crimes committed by the federal government, absolute torture, like having a tooth drilled without novocaine for several hours. in 1997 i was made homeless by community manipulation; in an 8 or 9 month span i had a gun to my head, was knocked out, and was intentionally run down by a car and taken by ambulance to a hospital, believe it or not, to the laughter of the community.
    the federal government has admitting to torturing, and of course that’s a per se violation of the 8th amendment, though it should also be regarded as criminal.
    If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth, right? The Democrats’ great accomplishment is producing the political equivalent of a Rodney King video, clearly demonstrating the lies of the right, the right Hilary Clinton correctly identified as a vast conspiracy. Confirm by examining Central District of California Cases, 01-4340, 03-9097, 08-5515, 10-5193, US Tax Court 12000-07L –though I think you want to view my US Tax Court Appeal to the 9th Circuit for a good account of their day to day assaults, a few month time slice indicative of a decade of assault, and more recently 9th Circuit case 11-56043.

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