Break-in at the Commons

Students feeling unsafe after man entered apartments in broad daylight

Students have been sharing security camera footage of the suspect on their social media pages. Mara Ireta Gordon/Argosy

On Oct. 22 a group of Mount Allison students reported a break-in at their apartment in the Commons, a block of student-exclusive townhouse apartments on King Street. The break-in took place around 10 a.m. Sarah Gordon, a student who was affected, said in a Facebook post that the suspect was last seen on the Commons’ security cameras wearing a grey hoodie and a black tuque and drives a black Hyundai Elantra.

According to Gordon, the suspect drove up and began checking apartment doors to see if they were unlocked. “I know he got into ours and one other neighbour’s at least,” said Gordon.

Amy Black, Gordon’s roommate, had an encounter with the intruder. “This man entered my unit, opened my bedroom door, said, ‘Sorry, wrong place,’ and left with my wallet,” Black said.

“[Black] put her glasses on and tried to see where he went, but he was gone by the time she got upstairs,” added Gordon. The students reported that Black’s wallet was the only item that the intruder had taken from their unit.

This is not the first time a break-in has occurred at the Commons. Last September, multiple items were stolen from a different group of Mt. A students.

“Our robber(s) came through the back sliding door around 6 a.m.,” explained Hannah Jenkins, a Mt. A student who lived in the Commons last year. “We were all sleeping when we heard some commotion on the main floor. They took the TV, a laptop, camera gear, a PS4, a jug of milk and 20 packs of ramen noodles.” Jenkins also said that her wallet was taken, similar to Black.

“It was not a fun experience,” said Jenkins. “We got pieces of wood to [wedge] in the crease of the sliding door to make sure we were safe, because the lock was broken.”

Mike Keech, the landlord of the Commons, responded to this. “The patio doors were not broken. A piece of wood was added to help keep the door shut as some individuals know how to ‘jimmy-rig’ them open when only one lock is used,” explained Keech. “The tenants did not have both locks in use on the patio door. Just the handle lock, not the bottom threshold lock which if locked probably would have deterred the thief or thieves.”

Jenkins also said that the building’s security cameras were not working at the time of the robbery and that, although they hadn’t been working for a few months, none of the tenants were told. “[The cameras] wouldn’t have caught the robber because they came through the back door,” she said. “They could have been checked for ‘suspicious activity’ but they weren’t functioning and we were never told.”

“We just didn’t have cameras on the back side of the building, where the intruder entered and exited through the patio door,” he said. “We since have added cameras all along the back to further strengthen our security of the property. Keep in mind most other landlords don’t even have security cameras on their properties.”

Jenkins described how she and her roommates called the RCMP, who came to take note of everything that was stolen and even had a forensic team do a sweep of the place. However, they never found out who was responsible for the break-in.

“It’s a complete inconvenience and an invasion of my privacy,” said Black. “I encourage everyone to keep their doors locked and keep their valuables secured.”

Some students said they feel unsafe living at the Commons. “Valuables can be replaced, but their sentiment and regaining our sense of safety won’t be as easy,” said Gordon.

“In my new apartment I check the door to make sure it’s locked three to four times before going to sleep now,” said Jenkins. “The Commons are cursed.”

“I would not say ‘The Commons are cursed.’ That’s a little harsh and untrue,” said Keech. “These buildings have been here for 14 years and this is only the third reported break and enter.”

Gordon is relieved that nothing more serious happened. “It’s obviously horrendous that this person felt entitled to violate us and steal, but we’re really glad no one was hurt. He felt confident enough to walk past all our security cameras and right down into people’s bedrooms,” she explained. “I think that’s what disgusts us the most, that he did it in broad daylight and didn’t stop despite being seen.”

After the break-in, Gordon posted an image of the suspect on the security footage on her Facebook page, asking people to tell her or the RCMP if they see him. Since then, she said, “We’ve had multiple people give a positive ID, and we really want to say thank you to everyone that reached out over Facebook and Instagram so quickly.”

“We have been taking the appropriate action and it is an ongoing investigation with the RCMP,” said Keech. “We are very confident the suspect will be caught and charged. The evidence has been passed over to the RCMP and the intruder entered units that didn’t have their doors locked.”

“I’ve already wrestled regaining my faith in humanity after being burgled and trying to understand why people would be so malicious,” said Gordon, who has been robbed before while travelling. “We all feel pretty violated right now. We’re definitely going to be more diligent with locking our doors, even if everyone is home.”

The intruder has not yet been caught or charged. “He seems to be targeting students, so please be diligent,” said Gordon.

Emma Conrad
Emma Conrad is a writer for the Argosy.