Five separate fraternity houses were broken into between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, June 1. Sigma Chi, Phi Delta Theta, Sigma Nu, and Lambda Chi all reported burglaries, and a criminal trespass was committed at Sigma Alpha Epsilon, where an Isuzu Rodeo was damaged.
There were no signs of forced entry at any of the houses.
“These are crimes of opportunity. The perpetrators are coming into unlocked rooms when people are asleep and taking whatever they see,” said Captain Regina Rogers of the Georgia Tech Police Department.
The criminals targeted laptops, cash, and credit cards that were lying in the rooms that they were broken into. Theta Chi was the hardest hit of the five fraternity houses, with four separate rooms burglarized.
Lambda Chi and Phi Delta Theta each reported one room burglarized, and Sigma Nu reported the house’s flat-screen TV stolen.
There have been no suspects identified in the case yet, but GTPD is working with several agencies in the Atlanta area to follow up on potential leads. So far, they have located a laptop-stealing ring but have not determined if the stolen Georgia Tech laptops are involved.
“We typically see a rise in burglaries during the summertime, when there are fewer people on campus. The key thing is for people to lock their doors,” Rogers said.
A physical security specialist will conduct a security survey of any fraternity house that requests one, which involves inspecting the house and making recommendations as to further security measures that could be taken.
“We’ve been educating the chapters on how to make their environment safer. This is a serious problem, but by no means unique to the Greek houses,” said Buck Cooke, Director of Greek Affairs.
“We’ve got better locks now, but I do think the security could still be worked on… As for my laptop, my insurance company was very cooperative, and I now have a new one,” said Lina Skandalakis, a second-year Psychology major and one of the victims.
“Obviously, the criminals are either people who blend in with the community and are very experienced with stealing laptops, or Tech students who know how to thwart anti-theft technologies,” Rogers said.
LoJack, a theft protection service, was installed on one of the stolen laptops. LoJack software, when installed, tracks and reports the location of a laptop using any Internet connection. However, it was apparently disabled at the fraternity house from which the laptop was taken.
GTPD recommends that each student register his or her laptop with the police department beforehand so that officers can track it if it is sold in a pawnshop.
In addition, students are also advised to do periodic backups so that in the case of theft and other circumstances, important files are not lost as well.
“Though there are bound to be mistakes, a lackadaisical attitude towards the physical security of your property is a bad idea in any case,” Cooke said.