After burglary, University Townhomes complex, police urge safety precautions

University Townhomes has 28 high-definition cameras covering the complex. They have had cameras for 12 years but got the high-definition cameras over the summer.

Vanessa Gresley

Imagine being awoken in the middle

of the night to a man standing in the doorway of your apartment. What would you do, and what precautions would you have taken to stay safe?

On Nov. 3, a Rootstown man entered two apartments at University Townhomes, according to a police report.

The man fondled a woman in one of the apartments while she slept. Officers responded to the area after a woman in the other apartment called the police and reported seeing a strange man standing in her bedroom doorway.

 The man fled but was quickly detained by a Kent police officer, according to the police report. The man was arrested and charged with burglary and sexual imposition.

Crime can happen anywhere, but there are ways for students to increase their safety.

“Kent is a safe city and Kent State University is a safe campus, but there are bad people everywhere,” Lt. Mike Lewis of the Kent Police Department said. “Lock your doors and check them twice. Deadbolts and additional locks are a good idea, too.”

Paying attention to your environment can make all the difference when living alone or in an apartment complex.

“Always be vigilant and watch for people who seem out of place,” he said. “You know your complex and know what is out of the ordinary.”

For apartment living, Tricia Knoles, the community resources officer for KSU Police, said the best self-defense is to be aware of your surroundings.

Being aware is more beneficial than taking a four-hour self-defense class, Knoles said.

Taking self-defense classes should be something done continuously so it is not forgotten. Residents need to think about the mindset it takes to fight back if something ever happens, she added.

“It’s human nature not to want to hurt someone, so when it comes down to it, if you haven’t thought about ‘Can I do this?’… then you’re going to freeze,” Knoles said.

Residents at University Townhomes have been reminded to make an effort to be more aware of what goes on around them.

“I have always felt so safe at University Townhomes. … Now I have to remind myself in the back of my head that I have to be alert and can’t trust everyone,” said Nicole Schnabel, a senior fashion design major.

Senior construction management major Cortney Anderson said she always makes sure to lock her townhome’s door so she doesn’t have to worry.

University Townhomes had taken safety precautions for their residents prior to the incident and is working on providing more.

“We provide deadbolts and the hand locks both, said Tom Manning, the University Townhomes community manager. “Also, all of our lighting was just redone by Ohio Edison.They came out and put new bulbs in all of them and checked to make sure they all work and made them more efficient.”

University Townhomes also got new high-definition cameras. It is one of the few apartment complexes in the area to have security cameras, Manning said.

Residents can find out if their apartment complex has cameras by calling the leasing office or contacting the manager.

Every parking lot and every parking space in the complex is covered.

“I’m working with the police right now and we got all the footage from this (burglary incident) downloaded, and this is going to convict the guy,” Manning said. “They caught him and said the security cameras are essential in prosecuting.”

Kent police officers also patrol the area up to five times a day with permission from the complex. 

On big weekends like Homecoming, the complex has security patrol. Manning confirmed it is in contact with a security company to bring in patrol on a regular basis.

University Townhomes took proactive measures, like sending updates or emails to tenants, prior to the incident. 

“We send emails around three times a year, and we’ll send another one before Christmas break on what students should do before they leave for the break,” Manning said. “There have been break-ins during Christmas, but they were able to catch the intruders on the analog cameras.”

A big time for crime is during breaks when students go home for long periods.

“Don’t go home for the holidays and totally disregard your apartment and belongings for four weeks,” Lewis said. “Every year, college students return from winter break to find their apartment has

been burglarized.”

Students’ best guess is it happened sometime between Dec. 10 and Jan. 3, which isn’t much to go on, Lewis said.

“Also, lock your car doors,” Lewis said. “Thieves love this time of year because cars are filled with newly purchased or newly received gifts.”

Knoles recommends using timed lights that go on and off throughout the day.

Manning said he recommends tenants to get a radio they can keep playing throughout the time they are gone.

If you see something, say something ­— don’t be afraid to call the police, Knoles said.

Five Resources Kent State Provides for Crime Prevention and Awareness:

Kent State encourages students, faculty and staff to take an active role in becoming educated about crime prevention and safety, according to Kent State’s Annual Crime Report. Information on the resources listed below is from the crime report.

1.   Community Resources Officer. The officer coordinates presentations on general campus crime prevention, distracted driving, general personal safety and other timely topics. Tricia Knoles is the full-time community resource officer.

2.   Residential Security Aide Program. The program provides a campus-wide security escort service and patrols seven days a week in the residence halls.

3.   Center for Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services. It is a designated safe space on campus for anyone needing assistance dealing with issues of sexual assault, relationship violence or stalking.

4.   Division of Human Resources. Human Resources offers a number of facilitator-led and online security awareness programs year-round for employees and students.

5.   Office of Student Conduct. Student Conduct Provides training regarding general safety and the student conduct system.

Vanessa Gresley is the housing reporter. Contact her at [email protected]