Our campus often feels like a bubble immune to outside dangers, but a pair of burglaries in the Murphy Apartments last weekend served as a reminder that we do, in fact, live in the middle of a city and are susceptible to crime common throughout the rest of Seattle.
Two burglaries occurred on campus in the last week, both of them in the Murphy Apartments.
At about 4:45 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25, a young man and woman, neither of whom are affiliated with Seattle U, cut open the window screen of a Murphy common room and forced a window open. The male then entered the building and attempted to steal money from a vending machine while the female kept watch. After about six minutes, the couple, unsuccessful at retrieving any property, headed out toward Broadway.
A little after 1 a.m. the following night, a man, also unaffiliated with Seattle U, walked off of James and strolled down the Campion walkway toward the Murphy apartments. He saw a cracked bedroom window, slid it open and removed a series of items within arm’s reach. This burglary occurred in about one minute.
Craig Birklid, Associate Director at Public Safety, said there is no evidence suggesting these two incidents are connected, despite their closeness in proximity and time.
“For us, burglaries are pretty unusual, and of the residence hall facilities, extremely so,” Birklid said. “But it is a really good reminder about ground-level, residential security.”
In the case of the first burglary, Birklid said the couple appeared to have a sense of the campus and have probably walked through before. He added that this is very typical of the drug-demand thefts occurring in the neighborhood, in which burglars are looking for small items to quickly sell for cash to get drugs.
In the second burglary, which occurred through a bedroom window, the window screen was already missing and the window-stop, which prevents the window from being slid open fully, was broken prior to the incident. The burglar simply slid open the window and grabbed everything he could get his hands on.
“It’s almost like he saw that window open and was like, ‘I’m gonna go for it,’” Birklid said.
Ryan Lim, third-year marketing and finance major, was not home when the burglary in his room occurred. He says two watches, a speaker and a pair of sunglasses were stolen from his desk.
Like many people, Lim leaves his window cracked so it doesn’t get stuffy in his room. He didn’t realize his belongings had been stolen until the next morning. When he did, he called Public Safety.
“I didn’t know that I was like the only one [on campus] that didn’t have a screen on my window,” Lim said, adding that, “It was just weird how a series of unfortunate events worked out.”
Lim already has a new screen, as well as a new window block and a wooden dowel to prevent the window from sliding open completely.
Like many students, he hadn’t really heard of burglaries happening on Seattle U’s campus before.
“I was just so unsuspecting,” Lim said. “I guess I was a little too comfortable living on campus.”
In response to the burglaries, Birklid has asked his staff to increase patrols for ground-level residences throughout campus and ensure window screens and window-stops are in place.
Housing & Residence Life (HRL) has been connecting with students to let them know that window-stops and screens are there for a reason, and if they don’t have them, they should contact HRL immediately.
Amy Sytsma, Resident Director of the Murphy Apartments and Chardin Hall, said these burglaries are a healthy reminder to be more vigilant about locking windows and keeping valuables out of site.
“But I don’t think anybody needs to be afraid or scared,” Sytsma said, adding that, because we are a small school and see the same people often, it’s easy to forget the risks of living in a city.
Birklid agreed, adding that oftentimes, because our campus crime rate tends to be rather low, students forget about the risk of burglaries.“But it just goes to show, within a very short amount of time, somebody can take advantage if they see an opportunity,” he said.
Sytsma said when deciding what constitutes so-called “suspicious behavior,” it’s always important to be aware of the root of your fear; if it’s due to a prejudice or if someone is truly acting in a suspicious manner. But even if someone makes you feel a little bit uncomfortable, she says, you should contact Public Safety and allow them to make the judgment call.
“If in doubt, call,” Birklid said. “Our staff are right now tasked with aggressively responding to those types of reports, because we don’t want the sense that we’re a soft target.”
Tess may be reached at