Off campus safety

All the crime stories I’ve heard in the UW-Eau Claire student housing area weren’t enough to convince me that I myself was in danger. After all, those stories had happened because people were careless or doing something they shouldn’t and something like that could never happen to me.

After leaving a friend’s house around midnight last Friday, I returned to my home, a triplex in which my roommates and I occupy the upper level. I found the door had been left unlocked. My roommate doesn’t usually take a key with her when she goes out, so I wasn’t surprised by this, but it’s always a little unnerving walking into an empty and open house.

Since I don’t enjoy being home alone, I went straight into my bedroom and turned on music. When I heard our door open a few minutes later, I thought nothing of it, assuming my other roommate had returned with her boyfriend.

However, when I opened my door to say hello and heard running footsteps followed by the slamming of the front door, I realized that it wasn’t either of my roommates in the house, but someone who shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

I followed to the door and looked outside, but whoever it was had turned off our porch light as he left, preventing me from seeing anything in the darkness.

Friday, Sept. 13, a mere two weeks into the semester, my home became one of the many victims of attempted theft and burglary in the Eau Claire student housing area this year.

Because I was home, the thief didn’t stay long enough to take anything. However, the three students who live in the unit below me weren’t as lucky.

Senior Michael Erickson said the thief stole a cup of change containing around $60. His girlfriend, junior Katherine Moua, also found her debit card missing that night. Another member of the house also claimed to be missing a small pile of change.

According to, 119 crimes have occurred in the Randall Park area of Eau Claire since Sept. 1, 2013. Of these 119 crimes, 18 of them are related to burglary and theft.

These are only the ones reported. Other crimes, like the one that occurred in my own home, wouldn’t have even been reported if the thief hadn’t been caught and arrested the morning after the break-in, carrying Moua’s debit card in his pocket.

Eau Claire police detective Todd Johnson said that the thief’s car was spotted on the morning of Sept. 14, and he was taken into custody later that day.  He added that, while this suspect may be off the radar, that doesn’t mean there aren’t more like him out there.

Whenever you go out on the weekends, make sure to lock your doors. It only takes a few seconds, and it can make a world of difference. Remind your roommates, friends and classmates. Lots of crimes aren’t reported simply because, like the incident in my home, they don’t seem big enough to matter.

But that doesn’t mean they aren’t happening. Locking your door is a simple way to help protect your possessions as well as yourself, and can prevent crimes such as this from happening again.

If you suspect anything suspicious, no matter how small it may be, contact the police immediately, Johnson said. Even a small tip can make a difference to an ongoing case.

I know, you may be thinking, just because this happened to a couple people I don’t know doesn’t mean it’ll happen to me. But that’s what I thought too.