Acheson Annex Experiences Frequent Burglaries

The Spectrum

When Curt Maranto's South Campus office in the Acheson Annex was broken into on Monday, he didn't think of it as anything out of the ordinary.

The unidentified burglar entered the office through the ceiling. And it wasn't the first time an incident like this occurred.

The Acheson Annex was built as a temporary building in 1965. It was not meant to stand for long, according to Lieutenant Joshua Sticht of the University Police, but it is still being used. The construction of the temporary building has allowed continuous break-ins to occur, according to Maranto, the director of advancement at the Buffalo Prep office in the Acheson Annex.

He and his colleagues have had multiple belongings stolen.

"We've been chronically broken into," Maranto said. "They've taken our cameras, our computer screens, petty cash, bus tokens. Anything that wasn't nailed down – of any type of value – they take. If it wasn't pushing in doors, it was crawling over the cinderblock walls through the ceiling tiles."

Once the annex was put up, a construction company put walls inside that were meant to be temporary rather than permanent, according to Sticht.

But the building has been "temporary" for 47 years.

Cinderblock walls go all the way up in permanent buildings, so when a ceiling tile is pushed up, one can only find a wall there. Meanwhile, in Acheson Annex, there's a wooden dry wall that only goes up to the ceiling tiles, which leaves completely open space up above. Once the burglar got through the ceiling tile, it was only a matter of getting his or her body up above, crawling across, and coming out on the other side into Maranto's office.

Maranto said the annex has been broken into four times in the 18 months he has been a staff member at UB.

The wooden doors are also easy to break into. Only the door to the main office has been replaced with a metal door, but the rest of the offices still have doors that are easy to penetrate despite their locks.

Although nothing was stolen from Maranto in the recent break-in via ceiling, he has had his computer, two still-cameras, one video camera, and all of his office supplies stolen since he's been at UB.

"The unfortunate part is, and we totally see this, it's a temporary building and it would just cost probably some insane amount of money to change all of these doors," Maranto said. "And I don't know if this building is slated to actually sit up or be here this long, and it really truly would, at the end of the day, become – in my opinion – a huge misuse of university funds."

Buffalo Prep Program Director Crystal Austin's office was broken into via the ceiling on Oct. 22. Her microwave and refrigerator, totaling $200 in value, were stolen. UPD officers are still investigating both break-ins, and a UPD detective believes the burglaries may have been by the same person, according to Sticht.

The Acheson Annex and the Diefendorf Annex are the only two remaining temporary buildings on the UB campus. There is no current plan to rebuild or replace either of them in the near future; there are only long-term plans, according to Kevin Thompson, the director of the Facilities Planning and Design Department.

Buffalo Prep staff attempted to install wireless security cameras, but they wouldn't work because of UB's wireless security, which frequently rotates its address to keep people from hacking into the system, according to Maranto. Sticht said UB has not installed a security system in the annex because the building is temporary.

Maranto also said they could not use the security cameras that the rest of the UB campus has because those cameras are hooked up to hard drives, and the hard drives in the Acheson Annex are always at a risk of being stolen.

Maranto does not feel unsafe in his office in the annex; he is just careful with what he leaves in his office. But even what he locks in his drawers gets stolen.

"They literally pried open my desk to get [my cameras]," Maranto said. "Like when the first camera was taken, I started locking everything up in my desk under lock and key. And not the last time, but the time before, they actually physically pried my desk open – ripped it open – to get the cameras out."

Staff members have lost watches, cameras, and computers due to burglaries in the Acheson Annex, according to Maranto.

The UPD is keeping an extra eye on the Acheson Annex.

"There's been plans to demolish those temporary buildings," Thompson said. "But they have a use, they're still in use, and until we find an alternate location for the programs in those buildings, we're not going to be demolishing them, so there's no current plans to take them down."