Greek leaders say theft investigation is slow, not fruitful

Although there have been some leads in the investigation into the 21 thefts in Townhouse Row over winter break, fraternity and sorority members with stolen property say they are frustrated at the pace of the investigation.

Upon returning to GW in January, members of Kappa Kappa Gamma, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Delta Gamma and Alpha Phi reportedly found their previously locked doors wide open with expensive property missing. Since the incidents, the affected Greek-letter organizations and the University Police Department have been working to determine who is responsible for the thefts. Progress has been too slow, fraternity and sorority leaders said.

UPD Chief Dolores Stafford said her staff is following up on tips last month from sources other than Townhouse Row residents.

“We are attempting to work on all of the leads that have developed,” Stafford said.

She added that various property have not been discovered through their serial numbers or other means.

Many students are disappointed in the lack of a resolution in the case, said Delta Gamma President Emily O’Neil. She said members feel uneasy knowing a similar incident could happen again.

“Upon leaving for break, we took all the necessary precautions to secure the house, and in the aftermath,” O’Neil said, “it is hard to truly feel safe in the rooms that we live in.”

Other Greek-letter organizations are frustrated with the progress as well. Although it’s been more than a month since the incidents were first reported, Sigma Phi Epsilon President Robert Grant said victimized members of his fraternity are still just as outraged as they were when they first discovered the thefts.

“No one in Sigma Phi Epsilon has forgotten about the incident,” Grant said. “I was hopeful about being reimbursed, but seeing that I have not heard from anyone in almost a month, I assume the option no longer exists.”

Students living in University-owned property have to sign a license agreement that states GW does not have to reimburse residents for stolen belongings. The contract can either be signed by hand or digitally when a housing assignment is selected online.

“(A) student agrees that, whether or not due to the negligence of the University, the University shall not be responsible for any property of the student, which may be lost, damaged, or stolen,” the license agreement states. “All property of the student shall be within the licensed premises at the student’s own risk.”

Some members of Sigma Phi Epsilon have hired lawyers, Grant added. Other Greek-letter leaders said several individuals are working with personal insurance companies for compensation for the stolen items.

Grant said that with little word from UPD in recent weeks, student confidence in University efforts to achieve success continues to decline. Despite the frustration, the organizations affected continue to work with the University in an effort to reclaim their belongings and prevent future thefts, leaders said.

Alpha Phi President Julia T. King said the Townhouse Row community is not going to give up on fixing the safety problems that have surfaced because of the thefts.

Said King: “We are determined as always to work with the university and MPD to keep our things and above all, ourselves safe.”

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