By Koko Christiaanse
Between 10:30 and 11:30 am on Sunday the 13th of September, three laptops and other valuable belongings were stolen from a four person room at the AUC dorms. Third year student Felipe Carvalho is a resident of the quad room and victim of the burglary, which occurred when the door was unlocked in an hour-long timespan.
The burglary was committed in broad daylight on the first floor of the apartment while there was somebody at home on the second floor. Carvalho had left the apartment and locked the door the previous night with his girlfriend, third-year student Nicky Wolff, while two of his roommates slept upstairs. He says, “one of my roommates left relatively early, 10:30am, but as is custom, when there’s people in the house you just leave the door open. We came back at 11:30am, and you could tell, the laptops were gone, and my backpack with all my important stuff.” There was no sign of forced entry.
An important detail he and Wolff noticed after the incident was that both string doors, which usually require a magnet key for entry, were left open. Wolff says, “once we stepped out of the room, one string door didn’t have a lock on it at all, and we could push it. The other one was propped open by a t-shirt.” Given this and the fact that main entrance doors require a magnet key only after 16:00pm, suspects cannot be restricted to residents.
Out of the three laptops stolen, two were out in the open, and the third in Carvalho’s backpack. The backpack also had Carvalho’s wallet and headphones in it. According to Carvalho, the items were within an arm’s reach of each other.
Carvalho and his roommates contacted the police after the incident. According to Carvalho, the police had a shift in demeanour after hearing the address. He says, “I don’t fault them for it, but you could see that they recognized the fact that it was a student dorm.” The police are yet to contact Carvalho with any leads about the incident.
Students note that there is a culture in the dorms for not locking the door to four person rooms. Carvalho says, “I remember coming in as a first year and the door never being something questioned, and that’s that. I guess you could say that [leaving the door open] is a feature of being in a four person room, you just sort of leave the door open.”
Sophie Bourdoncle, first year student at AUC, also lives in a four person room. She says, “during the day pretty much everyone leaves the door open. I think it has to do with the fact that both roommates and friends kind of walk in and out of the apartment during the day and if you’re awake, upstairs you’ll usually still hear people come in.”
Last week’s burglary was not an exceptional occurrence. The Resident Assistants of the AUC Dorms issued the following statement: “The recent burglaries in the dorms have been alarming. We would like to remind students to lock their doors and windows when they leave their room, to prevent burglaries from occurring. We are looking into what happened, together with DUWO, such that we can prevent it in the future. Safety doors are being checked and locks are being replaced where necessary.”
The incident has made Carvalho aware of the necessity of being cautious and locking the door. He says, “I’m constantly thinking about it, and going back to check it.” Due to having his wallet stolen, he also recommends other students to “have pictures of identification documents.” He notes that it was extremely difficult to retrieve important items such as citizen cards and driver’s licenses without identification.
Despite the bitter consequences, Carvalho hopes that the perpetrator wasn’t of his fellow students. He says, “I would say that in my preliminary judge of character, we’re all decent people who wouldn’t steal from people in their situation, who can’t afford that kind of stuff on a dime. Maybe I’m just positive about it, or really want to believe it.” He also considers the dorms to be a “pretty secure place”, but that students need to exercise more caution.
The Dutch police (Politie) have tips on preventing burglaries on their website. The website informs that “most burglars will go for a quick bounty. The longer they have to spend entering your home, the higher the chance they will give up.” They furthermore emphasise locking the door and not leaving valuable items in sight.