Crime wave continues in Cambridge colleges

Alice Baghdjian & Roisin Kebard 8 June 2009

St John’s and Christ’s targeted by laptop thievies, as police issue further warnings about flashers in town

Thieves have targeted the University residences of staff and students in the latest wave of burglaries, at the same time as Cambridge is named as a ‘hotspot for household theft’ in a report by Endsleigh Insurance.

The latest burglary occurred on Tuesday 21st April at a house on Lensfield Road. Another burglary on Saturday18th May was reported at Jesus College and on Monday 20th April at Christ’s College after a laptop was taken from a student room.

A series of thefts have also been reported at St John’s College, after two college rooms and three hostel rooms were entered before the start of term. Laptops, money and personal possessions were among the items stolen. Thieves gained access to the rooms through unlocked doors, and in one instance, the burglary occurred whilst the student was still present in the accommodation block.

In an email sent to members of St John’s, Head Porter, Paul Doxley, reminded students and staff to lock their doors when leaving their rooms, after a security sweep revealed that at least two student rooms and one staff room were left ‘insecure and unattended’.

“We had been fortunate in recent weeks as St John’s has not been subject to burglaries as other colleges have, sadly this has changed,” Doxley said. “It is very apparent that the number of crimes within the college community overall has substantially increased in the last two months,” he added.

Cambridgeshire Police have reported the presence of two suspicious individuals in college accommodation. They have been described as a black male in his early 20s, wearing a light blue jacket and dark trousers, and a white female with bleach blonde hair, of heavy build, and wearing a dark suit.

The individuals have not been linked directly to the burglaries, but police describe their presence in university accommodation as ‘suspicious’. Police are now urging students to make sure the door of their room or property is locked, even when making a trip to the shower room or gyp room, and report anyone looking out of place suspicious to the police.

The news of these latest thefts comes as Cambridge is announced as the fourth riskiest city for burglary in the UK, according to a report released by Endsleigh Insurance earlier this month. The report, compiled through comparing numbers of in the area against the total number of policy holders, ranks Cambridge in fourth position, after London, Nottingham and Bristol, as a hotspot for household theft.

“Burglary rates have spiked recently and according to the government that could be as a result of the economic recession we are experiencing. It’s crucial that people across the country remain vigilant when it comes to home security,” Endsleigh spokesperson Rhiannon Harris said. “Domestic burglary figures may have dropped substantially over the past decade but this period of economic gloom means there is no room for complacency when it comes to protecting your home.”

Burglaries are not the only occurrence to put Cambridge on high alert, after a bomb scare on a farm in Madingley Road last week. Bomb disposal units were called to Mill Farm on April 15th at 8.30am following the discovery of several suspicious devices whilst police officers were executing a warrant at the property. After an expert search, the devices were declared safe. Two 51-year-old males were arrested in relation to the incident, and detained at Parkside police station for questioning.

Cambridge Police are investigating reports of a man exposing himself in and around college properties. If you have seen this man or have any information, please contact the Police on 0845 4564564 as this could greatly help with the apprehension of a suspect.

Alice Baghdjian & Roisin Kebard