Burglaries Continue in Diefendorf Annex

For the sixth time since last year, an intruder attempted to break open and steal from cabinets in South Campus' Diefendorf Annex during the weekend of April 21 and 22.

No physical damage was done to the door, window, or ceiling tiles in the office, so it is suspected that the intruder was someone who had a key to the office. Only faculty and staff are given keys to the annex.

The incident is the latest in a series of suspicious activity at Diefendorf Annex:

  • On April 2, pry marks were found on cabinets in an office in the annex.
  • In March, cabinets were reported as damaged, and a key to an office cabinet was stolen.
  • In November 2011, cash and bus passes were stolen from an office.
  • In May 2011, a cabinet was forced open in an office, but nothing was stolen.
  • In February 2011, cash from an envelope in a cabinet was stolen.

The unknown intruder removed the locks from cabinets - which contained office supplies - over the weekend of April 21 and 22 while the office was closed. Office staff reported the incident the following Monday. Nothing appeared to be missing from inside, according to Assistant Chief of University Police Chris Bartolomei.

There are no leads on a suspect at this time, but Bartolomei said it's most likely someone who is not currently authorized to have a key.

"Right now, anyone who found a lost key, stole a key, copied a key, or formerly had legitimate access to the area anytime over the past year and a half could be responsible for this," Bartolomei said in an email.

A staff member who works in Diefendorf Annex said that office break-ins occur approximately every two months. She said she has no idea who could be breaking in, but that it is common knowledge in Diefendorf Annex to not keep belongings out in the open in offices because they might get stolen. But Bartolomei points out that these instances were only reported to the University Police six times in the last year.

The source said her colleagues who have worked in Diefendorf Annex longer than her, for six or seven years, have been experiencing these problems since they began working in the annex.

The incident report from last week notes that some of the ceiling tiles in the women's restroom were disturbed.

"It appears person or persons went in the women's restroom and tried to lower [themselves] through the ceiling tile," the police report says.

Diefendorf Annex and Acheson Annex are the only two standing temporary buildings on South Campus, which were built as temporary buildings in June of 1966 and June of 1965, respectively. Neither was rebuilt. Intrusion through the ceiling is possible because the wooden drywall does not reach past the ceiling tiles like it does in permanent buildings, but according to Bartolomei, that is not what happened in the most recent incident.

"We have looked into this previously and it seems very unlikely that someone has been entering the room through the ceiling," Bartolomei said in an email. "There are electrical wires and other structures within the ceiling that would obstruct access. Tiles would definitely be broken or disturbed and debris would fall to the floor, etc...Anything is still possible, but I think it's more likely that someone is using a key to get in."

Bartolomei said someone who is authorized to have a key to the office would probably know what is inside the cabinets, so they would not have to pry them open looking for something to steal.

"If they would change the locks and issue new keys only to a limited number of authorized persons, these occurrences would likely stop," Bartolomei said in an email. "Or least give us a limited number of possible suspects with a key."

Email: news@ubspectrum.com