As Binghamton University classes moved online in wake of the coronavirus, many students decided to leave Binghamton to return to their hometowns, leaving their on- and off-campus residencies vacant. The surge of vacancies made not only residencies more susceptible to burglaries, but also the BU campus itself.
According to Investigator Mark Silverio of Binghamton’s New York State University Police (UPD), a male suspect burglarized the University Union on March 30. The assailant got away with a large number of goods, mostly food items from Sodexo, and burglarized some student groups’ offices located in the University Union.
Since the investigation is ongoing, neither University officials nor UPD could release details on the impacted offices or specifics on stolen objects.
According to Tom LaSarso, general manager of retail operations for BU Dining Services (BUDS), the thief stole about $200 worth of goods from BUDS, including a pushcart, candy and chips. Although BUDS was a victim of the situation, LaSarso said he is happy it was a relatively small hit.
“This was a small theft,” LaSarso wrote in an email. “We’re glad it did not lead to vandalism.”
Throughout the transition to online courses, most buildings on BU’s campus have remained open and accessible. In the wake of this theft, Ryan Yarosh, senior director of media and public relations, maintains that the University Union will remain open.
Burglaries in the wake of a student exodus are not uncommon in the Binghamton community, particularly for students living off campus. During Thanksgiving break, a number of student homes were burglarized, including one where $575 in cash was stolen. A sizable number of homes were robbed during winter break as well, according to Robert Meddleton, an investigator for the Southern Tier Crime Analysis Center and UPD.
Meddleton wrote in an email that there have already been a number of reported break-ins since students left campus this semester.
“There have been a few burglaries since the move to online-only classes but nothing like over the winter break as of yet,” Meddleton wrote.
Although the number of burglaries may not be particularly high at this moment in time, Meddleton urged students to stay vigilant even if they have already left Binghamton for the semester. He wrote that students who want to have their property checked while out of town can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Binghamton Police Department (BPD) by emailing Crime Prevention Lieutenant David Bidwell at email@example.com.
“[Bidwell] has only received two requests to check properties, so I would hope that more students will consider doing this because, although it’s not a certainty that their house won’t still be burglarized, it may stop some of it from occurring and the mere presence of BPD cars alone can be a deterrent,” Meddleton wrote.