DPS Chief Jay Gruber weighs in on campus and neighborhood burglaries

IMG_8274Throughout the past week Georgetown students have been plagued by a series of burglaries throughout campus. Preying on unlocked offices and resident halls, what is suspected to be a single group of thieves has made off with a variety of valuables, including wallets, cell phones and laptops.

DPS has put considerable effort into tracking down the perpetrators, who, according to DPS Chief of Police Jay Gruber, have been active at numerous college campuses throughout the District, including American University . “We have quite a few leads and we are working with other university police departments in the District,” said Gruber. “We know who some of these suspects are. It’s just a matter of finding them on our campus and placing them under arrest.”

College campuses are an ideal niche for thieves such as these to operate: the isolated nature of campus life creates a false sense of security that prompts students to leave valuable devices unattended and their doors unlocked.

Burglars, says Gruber, are all too aware of this. This most recent string of thefts is one in a long line campus burglaries carried out by individuals who raid residence halls because they are low-risk, high-profit goldmines of high-demand commodities such as laptops.

“We want to make the university a harder target,” said Gruber. “I can’t put a fence around the university with locks on it. I’m depending on people in residence halls not to allow people in they don’t know. I’m counting on people to lock their doors.”

So far, the thefts have not been violent, but opportunistic in nature. The perpetrators do not force entry to dorms, but wait around for a unsuspecting student to let them in to a building, where they proceed to search for unlocked and unoccupied rooms undectected.

The primary suspect fits the description of a 5-foot-10 black male with a medium build.

Considering students often unwittingly enable these thefts, Gruber pointed out that, in addition to DPS and GUPD officers, students serve as a first line of defense in deterring thieves.

“Almost every single one of our break-in on campus are due to the fact a student didn’t lock their residence hall door, or a faculty or staff member failed to lock their office. If I could just get people to lock their doors, our theft would drop off to almost nothing,” said Gruber.

When asked what the most effective way to prevent theft on campus, Gruber advised students first and foremost to lock their doors, no matter what: “If I had to pick one thing, one thing and one thing only it would be locking your door.”

In addition to locking doors, Gruber emphasized the importance of student awareness and participation in reporting suspicious behavior. According to Gruber, student calls are the most effective way to make a successful arrest and require nothing more than an inkling of common sense, “We are not asking our student to become police officers, we are asking them to take a little bit of a stake in their own security.”

Photo: Miles Gavin Meng/Georgetown Voice

3 Comments on “DPS Chief Jay Gruber weighs in on campus and neighborhood burglaries

  1. Will someone explain the difference between GUPD and DPS. Is this a gateway to them being armed?

  2. Also, I want to know what it means when they exercise “full powers of arrest.” When, if ever, do we start to consider them as “real police” that have to follow the chain of evidence and other procedure.

    Per Limpuangthip v. U.S. 932 A.2d 1137 (D.C. App. Ct. 2007), special police officers (e.g. DPS) are only agents of the state when they are *expressly* acting for the purpose of upholding state law (“invoke state authority in manner, word, or deed”). So, when they accompany an RA or something like that, their search isn’t regulated by 4th Amendment, but they can still turn over all their evidence to the police.

  3. Fareed: Actually, when Georgetown University Officers “accompany” an RA for an Administrative Search of a room, the officers are only present to provide security for the university employee that is conducting the actual search. The officer cannot participate in the search nor direct the university employee where to search. The Georgetown University Officers would in fact be considered Agents of the Government if they were conducting the search and therefore anything they found could not legally be used in a criminal court (excluding plain sight)… this however would not exclude anything they found from being used by Georgetown University in an Administrative manner (Student Conduct / Student Judicial Services — whatever it’s called at GU).

    As far as the difference between GU Police and GU DPS; there is none. The Georgetown University officers have always been police officers. Changing the name just clarifies the fact that they are police; vested with police authority and training; unlike “Public Safety Officers” you might see at your local shopping mall.

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