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Police: Thieves have been entering Harvard dorm rooms as students sleep to steal electronics

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Harvard University Police Department Criminal Investigation Division at 617-495-1796.

Harvard Yard at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., March 16, 2022. Kayana Szymczak/The New York Times

Police are investigating at least three recent reports of thieves breaking into Harvard University dorms and stealing laptops and other electronics.

The three incidents allegedly took place between Thursday and Monday, police said in a community advisory this week.

One break was reported in Mower Hall and the other two in Wigglesworth Hall, according to officials.

Among the electronics reportedly stolen were three laptops, AirPods, an iPad, an Apple Smart Keyboard and Pencil, and prescription sunglasses, police said.

The suspects are believed to have accessed these dorm rooms by the windows. In two of the incidents, victims said they were sleeping when the thefts occurred.

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“The first floor windows, because it’s so hot in the summer, a lot of us are opening (them) to put our fans in,” one student told WHDH. “That’s kind of the reason they’re getting in.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Harvard University Police Department Criminal Investigation Division at 617-495-1796.

Police reminded the public that although burglaries like these are rare, there are some precautions that can be taken. Officials suggested the following:

  • Residents should avoid propping open interior or exterior doors at any time, holding outside doors open for strangers, or allowing strangers to “piggyback” on their access card.
  • Residents should keep their doors locked at all times, even when in the room or when going down the hall for only a few minutes.
  • If at any time, residents observe someone acting in a suspicious manner in a building or attempting to enter residences, they should call the Harvard University Police Department at 617-495-1212. Suspicious behavior may include a stranger knocking on your door and asking an out-of-place question, such as “did you lose these keys,” or making an excuse for being found in the room (“I was looking for …”).
  • Residents should close their windows when leaving their rooms, even for short periods of time; should not disengage the “ventilation stop” on first-floor windows; and should keep all property away from windows in order to prevent someone from reaching in and removing items.
  • If a resident arrives home and it appears that an unlawful entry occurred, please do not enter. Call the Harvard University Police Department immediately at 617-495-1212 from the safety of a neighbor’s room. At no time should a resident enter the room, touch anything, or confront someone in the room or the building.

More information can be found in the Harvard University Police Department’s annual security report entitled “Playing it Safe.”

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