For residents of Coles Tower, another week has brought another break-in. On either Monday or Tuesday, an apartment was broken into and prescription medication was stolen.
The break-in is the third to have occurred on campus in the last six weeks, and the fourth in Coles Tower since September 1, 2010.
"Some prescription medication was taken out of a bedroom in the Tower, and [while] not all of the pills were taken out of the bottle, several were taken," said Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols.
"The prescription had only been in the room for a short amount of time, like within the last day, and it was stolen within hours of being placed there, so right now we're investigating...to determine who had access to the space," Nichols added.
While Nichols declined to release the name of the student whose pills were stolen or the floor where the break-in took place, he did reveal that the victim had been involved in a similar incident in which prescription medications had been stolen previously.
"This same student had reported to us some medication stolen sometime over break, and that [burglary] was just reported to us the day before this theft occurred," said Nichols.
The student reported that the medication, the same type as that stolen in a separate incident over Winter Break according to Nichols, was missing from the room when he or she returned.
"[The burglary] was reported probably weeks after the original theft occurred. So we're looking into that as well, trying to determine who had access to the floor during break," added Nichols.
Burglars who entered MacMillan House on December 28 also stole prescription medication. The MacMillan burglary was the first of three break-ins at the College since late December. The numerous attempts to steal prescription drugs correspond with the recent increase in pharmacy robberies across Maine.
According to the New York Times, there were 21 pharmacy robberies in Maine last year, up from two in 2008 and seven in 2009. In each instance, the robbers focused primarily on stealing prescription drugs.
Nichols said that the Office of Safety and Security is not ruling anyone out as a suspect in the current investigation.
"There are several people who live on the floor, who could [have] conceivably had access, so that's the situation that we're in," he said. "We don't know if it was done by somebody who lives there, somebody who was visiting on the floor, or just somebody who happened to [be] passing through in the stairwell and saw an open door."
While only one room was burglarized, it was one of many open in the apartment at the time. Nichols is urging students to change their habits.
"There were other doors that were unlocked as well, [but] right now this is the only theft that was reported," Nichols said. "We recommend that students lock their bedrooms as well, especially when we've got a series of thefts going on in the area [and] when you've got something in there that might be subject to theft."
Residents of the Tower responded with mixed feelings to Nichols' warning.
"At the beginning of the year [during] the [fall] semester, our doors were taped or we wouldn't mind if they didn't close because we felt safer than we actually were, but now we've started locking everything and making sure we know who's coming in and out," said Max Goldberg Liu '11.
"It's unfortunate that the climate is as such," he added.
Caroline Ciocca '12 wasn't as determined to change her habits, however.
"It's going to be one of those things that I'm going to continue to have on my list like, 'Oh I should go pick up my keys so I can actually lock my [bed]room,' but actually going to do that is another story," she said. "I'm kind of alarmed by it, but not so much that I'm going to make any drastic changes in how I lock my room."
Nichols sought to reassure students concerned by the recent string of break-ins.
"Every once in a while you'll get a series of thefts that occur in fairly rapid succession," said Nichols. "Often when we do solve them we find that it's the same person responsible for them. Not always, but often that is the case."
"We ask students to just be aware that we are having a little period of thefts and burglaries in [or] closely around the Tower, to be alert to that, to report any suspicious activity or people they see in the Tower...and to always keep the door shut," he added.