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Amid Off-Campus Break-Ins, Boston Police Department Offers Tips to Prevent Burglary Over Winter Break

Maggie Holahan heard a noise coming from her living room. When she walked around the corner, she came face-to-face with a man climbing through her window. He ran away upon seeing her.

“I went to see, thinking it was just our roommates coming home, but saw a man halfway through our window, dressed in all black, wearing a face covering and all black clothes and gloves,” Holahan, MCAS ’25, wrote in a statement to The Heights about the Nov. 18 incident.

Michael Cox, commissioner of the Boston Police Department (BPD), wrote a statement to Boston-area college students on Nov. 17 to provide tips for keeping living spaces and personal possessions safe during Thanksgiving break.

According to BPD Sergeant Detective John Boyle, students living off-campus should consider these same recommendations as they leave for Winter Break.

“Same rules apply,” he said in an email to The Heights.

Cox’s statement recommended students lock all windows and doors, remove air conditioners from windows, and install timed lighting systems to create the illusion of someone being home.

“Request to put a hold on any mail delivery via the U.S. Postal Service until you return,” Cox also wrote in the statement. “Large piles of mail will often alert possible intruders that the residence is unoccupied.”

The incident at Holahan’s residence on Gerald Rd. was one of numerous break-ins at off-campus houses in Brighton over Boston College’s Thanksgiving break.

Alexis Witkowski, MCAS ’25, also lives on Gerald Rd. and said her house was broken into during the break. When her roommate first arrived back at the house on Nov. 26, she noticed the front door was unlocked, even though the roommates made sure to lock all the windows and doors before leaving, according to Witkowski.

While it was apparent someone had been in their house while they were gone, no expensive items were missing, she said.

“A couple bins were out of place,” Witkowski said. “It was just clear that someone had been in our house, but … none of our electronics were missing, our TV was there, speaker was there, expensive items, jewelry was there.”

When Witkowski checked the wallet she left in her house over the break, she realized they had been robbed.

“I decided to check my wallet, and all my cash was missing,” Witkowski said. “And then I went through my roommate’s wallet, all her cash was missing, and then my other roommate’s wallet, all her cash was missing. So then we realized that they actually did take stuff.”

Witkowski also said the robber left a necklace behind that didn’t belong to any of her roommates.

“He or she had dropped a necklace chain that none of us own, so obviously it was from a different house that they robbed,” Witkowski said.

Once they realized a burglary had occurred, Witkowski said she and her roommates notified a Boston College Police Department (BCPD) officer who was parked on their street.

“BCPD came and they took that necklace, and then Boston Police came, as well as detectives to take photos of the windows and everything that was out of place,” she said.

According to Witkowski, her house is one of the only residences on Gerald Rd. without a Ring Video Doorbell, which may be why their house was broken into. Both she and Holahan said other houses on Gerald Rd. recently experienced break-ins.

 BPD also filed a breaking and entering report on Nov. 23 for a house on Radnor Rd. and another on Nov. 27 for a house on Greylock Rd.

Cox encouraged students to have neighbors monitor their residences and to be watchful of their neighborhood if they are staying in their residences during the break.

“If possible, ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on things during your time away,” Cox wrote. “Conversely, if you are going to be staying in the city, keep an eye on your neighborhood and call 9-1-1 if you have an emergency or see anything suspicious.”

December 8, 2023