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The Daily Tar Heel

Thefts Reported During Residence Hall Fire Alarm

Officials say this type of crime is unusual on campus and that students should take precautionary measures during fire alarms.

Four police reports filed Monday stated that a laptop computer, cash, compact discs and other small items were taken from rooms on the third floor of Carmichael during a fire alarm just after midnight, said Maj. Jeff McCracken of the University police.

Rebecca Casey, assistant director of housing and residential education, said the type of crime that happened in Carmichael this weekend does not occur frequently. "It's certainly something we will want to investigate," she said.

Sophomores Keith Bolte and Bucky Harris, roommates on the third floor, said they suffered heavy losses during the alarm. Bolte said he lost a small sum of money and his UNC ONE Card, while Harris said more than $150 was stolen from his girlfriend, who was visiting from N.C. State University.

Both roommates said they did not notice that anything was missing from the room until the next morning. At about 8:30 a.m., Bolte said he noticed that his wallet had been moved, and a short time later he realized that his ONE Card was missing.

"At first I thought I had just misplaced it," Bolte said. But when Harris' girlfriend called to report that her money was missing, he realized that it actually had been stolen and filed a police report.

Harris said he usually locks his door during a fire alarm but failed to do so Sunday night. "We just walked out and didn't think about it," he said.

Casey said the Department of Housing and Residential Education's evacuation policy does not address the locking of room doors during a fire alarm but that there likely will be discussion of the policy in light of the recent incidents.

"Our primary concern is students' safety," Casey said. She said students should quickly evacuate during any fire alarm but should take their wallets if they are readily available.

Jonathan Harmon, a freshman who lives in Stacy Residence Hall, said he followed Casey's precautionary advice during the one fire alarm his residence hall has had this year. "I put my computer in my drawer, and then I grabbed my wallet and keys and left the room," he said.

McCracken said he had not heard of theft cases during evacuations in his eight years with the University police. "Either it was a real alarm and somebody just seized the opportunity (to steal), or it is possible that they caused the alarm intending to do the same thing," he said.

McCracken also suggested that the perpetrator in this situation might have cased the area prior to the crime, and he warned students to be cautious.

He said, "People should be vigilant and aware of any suspicious activity in residence halls."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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