UPD investigates $25,000 in Townhouse Row thefts

University officials met with fraternity and sorority leaders Tuesday night to talk about safety and reimbursement as the University Police Department continues investigating the 21 thefts in Townhouse Row that occurred over winter break.

UPD Inspector Mark Balazik said he could “only speak in generalities,” but assured students that UPD was being thorough in its search for the culprit.

“The investigation will go on until no stone is unturned,” Balazik said.

He added that UPD has posted a crime alert to jog the memories of some who may have observed suspicious behavior. Balazik asked for serial numbers for stolen items like televisions or credit card information to help the investigation.

In an interview with The Hatchet, UPD Chief Dolores Stafford said police have assessed the stolen property at about $25,000. She said that although officers have not received calls from those residing in the townhouses over break, UPD is working to find leads.

“We are actively pursuing information as it becomes available to us,” Stafford said.

Tim Miller, director of the Student Activities Center, addressed student concern for the University’s reimbursement of stolen property. He said the Office of Risk Management will make the decision on reimbursing students after the investigation is complete.

Students should use their homeowners and renters insurance to gain reimbursement quickly, said Henry Knabe, assistant director of GW Housing Programs. He said students have an active role to play in the safety of their residences.

“Townhouses … are notorious for swapping keys instead of turning them in,” he said.

Alpha Phi President Julia King said key swapping is irrelevant because residents were not in the townhouse when the thefts occurred.

“This happened when our stuff was in (the) custody of the University,” she said.

King made suggestions for improving safety, such as restricting access to Townhouse Row buildings. She said no one in her sorority likes being in the common area late at night because of safety concerns. Other ideas included installing GWorld swipe machines in the elevators and requiring accompaniment for outside visitors, including maintenance, at all times.

“We are appreciative of our house and the large staff that supports it,” King wrote in an e-mail, “however, we have requested – to no avail – in the past to have key access to the house as opposed to swiping.”

“We do tell our sisters to ask what and why a GW employee is doing when they enter the house – and encourage them to report anything that makes them feel unsafe.”

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