The Southern Tier Crime Analysis Center reported four burglaries on Murray Street in Binghamton over Thanksgiving break, and as a longer holiday approaches, officials are warning the students to take precautions against robberies.
Murray Street is located on Binghamton’s West Side, where many off-campus Binghamton University students reside. According to Robert Meddleton, investigator for the Southern Tier Crime Analysis Center and Binghamton’s New York State University Police (UPD), the Binghamton Police Department (BPD) does not keep records on whether burglaries affected student housing versus resident housing, but school breaks often come with an increase in robberies in student-populated areas.
“Burglary issues have become more and more with every [student] break,” Meddleton said.
Two out of the four houses that were burglarized during Thanksgiving break had unlocked doors and windows, but it is unclear whether that was because residents failed to secure the building or robbers managed to pick locks while breaking in. In one of the Thanksgiving break robberies, Meddleton said a robber took $575 in cash that a BU student left behind.
According to Meddleton, off-campus students are easy targets for burglars because they are often away from their houses for months at a time. Tavish Srivastava, a junior majoring in computer science who lives on the West Side, said his house was almost robbed over the summer.
“I found out this semester when I got back that someone had tried to break into my room,” Srivastava said. “He tried to kick through the screen and open the window, but joke’s on him because the windows are painted shut.”
Because Srivastava’s landlord installed cameras, the police caught the individual who attempted to burglarize the house just a couple days after the incident occurred.
Cameron Gironda, a junior majoring in chemistry who lives on the West Side, also has cameras on his house, and said they help him feel secure Downtown. He is not scared by the prospect of a burglary over the upcoming winter break.
“We’re going to lock our windows and doors and most of our valuables will be removed,” Gironda said. “Another reason I am not worried is because we do have cameras in the front and back sides of the house.”
Jacob Eckhaus, treasurer of Off Campus College Council and a junior majoring in accounting, said he takes similar steps to ensure the safety of his home.
“I myself live on the West Side and am always cognizant of locking doors and windows before leaving for breaks,” Eckhaus wrote in an email. “My impression is that many students similarly make sure that they do this. In my opinion, most of the risk can be mitigated by taking proactive steps.”
Prevent off-campus break-ins during breaks with these tips provided by Investigator Robert Meddleton of the Southern Tier Crime Analysis Center and Binghamton’s New York State University Police:
— Double- and triple-check windows and doors to be locked.
— Leave an exterior light on to let burglars know someone is home.
— Put shades down.
— Let your landlord and neighbors know you will be away and see if they can check on the place.
— Take home your cash and expensive belongings, especially clothing.
— Write down serial numbers for expensive items you cannot bring home such as television sets, speakers and game devices.
— Install cameras or ask the landlord to install them for you.
David Bidwell, crime prevention lieutenant with BPD, said he advises students to email him at email@example.com if they are concerned about leaving their house over break. Bidwell will add the houses to a list and ensure patrol officers check in on them while they are working in the neighborhood.
“If they want to email with dates when they are gone and an address, I will put it out to our patrol shifts to have them check or extra patrol the neighborhoods when manpower and call volume allows it,” Bidwell wrote in an email. “Also, if they let me know if they plan on leaving lights on or if they are on a timer so our officers know, and a good contact number for them so we can reach out to somebody if we find anything.”