August 14, 2020

Suspicious Alumnus Asks to Enter Student Apartment

posted on: Thursday February 18, 2010

Allison O’Connor ’10 / News Staff

On alumni weekend, Cunningham Hall residents received an unexpected visitor. A male subject knocked on the door of an apartment and told the student residents that he was an alumnus who had lived in that apartment several years ago. The man claimed that he had lost a ring and asked if he could go into the room and look in the closet for it.

“[He] went through the apartment, looked in the closet, said he found the ring, and left,” said Sgt. David Marshall, supervisor of the Office of Safety and Security.

Upon further inspection, the students found nothing missing from the apartment. Providence College Security investigated both the man and the incident.

“He did tell the student actual things that happened…what year he was here, who lived in the room then, [and] the loss of the ring was actually legit,” said Marshall.

It would have been impossible for the man to discover the ring, since the ring had been lost 10 years earlier, and the room had since been repainted and cleaned numerous times.

This incident has instigated a further promotion of on-campus safety tips.

“If a stranger was to come to the door [of an apartment or dorm], number one: don’t let him in, and number two: if he gives you a story…tell him that he has the wrong room, and go to security,” said Marshall. “I would suggest just calling us right away.”

Aside from this incident, there have been no other reports of uninvited persons entering the dorms and apartments this year. College Security strongly advises students not to prop open doors, as leaving doors ajar and opening doors for strangers sets students up to become victims.

“Non-students should not be in residence halls, and if someone doesn’t look right, contact us so that we can investigate,” said Major John Leyden, executive director of Safety and Security. “Propped doors invite unwanted guests.”

Other suggestions for safety within the gates of the College include utilizing the available campus resources such as the campus shuttle, student escorts, and emergency phones. Marshall encourages students to report any suspicious activity to Safety and Security right away.

“If something smells rotten, it usually is, [so] use your senses and call us, let us check it out,” he said.

This semester, a new reporting system has been initiated at Providence College to allow students to report any incidents or suspicious activities completely anonymously right from their cell phones. The service is called TipNow, and is used at several other colleges and universities throughout the nation, including Quinnipiac University and Santa Clara University.

As of mid-January, students and members of the College community can now simply send a text message to PC@tipnow.org. The phone number remains untraceable, and the text message is sent to emergency supervisors and sergeants, as well as to the dispatcher.

Thus far, Safety and Security has received five tips via this new text messaging system. Most recently, a witness reported to PC@tipnow.org that a green SUV backed into a pole in front of Cunningham Hall and that the subjects in the car got out and ran.

“This person told everything that went on, so [Safety and Security] was able to tell the police exactly what happened,” said Marshall.

Marshall emphasized that this system is very effective and encourages students to use it.

“Students can assist in providing a safer campus by being vigilant and contacting the Office of Safety and Security at extension 2222 or PC@tipnow.org whenever suspicious activity is observed,” said Major Leyden.

It is also recommended that students lock cars and secure any electronics or valuables safely in car trunks or in out-of-sight locations. Recently, there have been stolen GPSs from cars on campus.

“We had three [stolen GPSs] last week in front of Alumni Hall, in the dirt lot area,” said Marshall.

These instances all happened between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

“It’s not happening at night, it’s happening during the day,” he said. “We’re investigating right now and hopefully it doesn’t happen again.”

Marshall also suggested that female students attend a semester-long women’s self defense program that is currently being hosted by PC Security. The group meets on Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. in Feinstein Academic Center for one hour. The program lasts for eight to 12 weeks, and teaches women self defense moves called RAD, boxing skills, and other important facts and physical maneuvers that will allow them to defend themselves in situations if necessary. The course averages 35 girls per semester and is a beneficial way to prevent students from becoming victims.

By acting wisely, exercising caution in daily activities, and reporting any suspicious activities, students can ensure that life on campus remains as safe as possible. Students should make sure to close first floor apartment and dorm windows while the residence is unoccupied, and exercise care with PC ID cards or report any lost or missing cards as soon as possible in order to prevent fraudulent ID uses.

PC Safety and Security is constantly working hard to make students feel safe, so students must take part in this effort as well.”Students should feel safe on campus and I am confident they do,” said Major Leyden.

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