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Boston Police Department Offers Safety Tips for Off-Campus Residents Amid Increasing Break-In Attempts

Therese Sparacio and her roommates awoke on Feb. 16 to video footage of a masked man climbing the back steps to their house and peering through their windows the night before.

One of the roommates’ parents then called a Boston College dean.

“The dean proceeded to send over someone from their office that basically gave us rape aggression defense pamphlets,” Sparacio, MCAS ’25, said.

In a follow-up statement to The Heights, Sparacio said she was not present during the visit from a staff member.

“When I returned home, my roommates showed me the BC rape aggression defense pamplets,” Sparacio said in the statement. “In addition, they said they told them to lock their doors and take other precautionary measures. Measures that we were already taking at this point.”

In a statement to The Heights, Dean of Students Corey Kelly said two staff members from the Office of the Dean of Students (DOS) visited Sparacio’s off-campus residence to provide support, check locks, and discuss security tips.

“The staffers also informed the students about resources that were available to them, and explained that BCPD had increased its presence in the area and that the BC Community Liaison was actively present and monitoring the area on weekends,” she said in the statement. “They encouraged the students to reach out directly to them with any concerns.”

Kelly also said the DOS staff members visited other apartments in the area that were affected by attempted break-ins.

This is not the first suspicious occurrence at Sparacio’s house, nor a rare occurrence for off-campus houses in Brighton. Boston Police Department (BPD) issued a community alert on Wednesday, advising Brighton residents to secure their homes amid increasing break-ins.

“We urge all residents to remain vigilant and take proactive measures to protect their property,” the alert reads. “Ensure that all doors and windows are securely locked at all times, and consider installing additional security measures such as motion-sensor lights, alarm systems, and cameras.”

Sparacio said she and her roommates experienced similar attempted break-ins earlier this semester and last semester as well.

“We have had other scenarios earlier in the semester, and honestly last semester, where we’ve had to call the police because there were two masked men … stalking outside of our house,” Sparacio said. “This was earlier in the semester—Jan. 30 was the date—and we called [BPD]. They said that they would come, and they never came.”

Around 4 a.m. on Feb. 5, a masked man broke into one of Sparacio’s roommates’ cars, Sparacio said. Her landlord notified them of the robbery after he saw the man on their security footage, and Sparacio called BPD’s non-emergency line to report the robbery, she said.

“They basically told me to stop, stop, stop, stop, stop talking,” Sparacio said. “They then pointed me in the direction to call Brighton Police precinct, so then I called Brighton Police precinct. They redirected me to call 911. I just wanted someone to listen to me and just take down a statement.”

Sparacio said her roommate who owned the car went to the Brighton Police precinct the following morning, but because no one was injured by the robbery, the police did not take further action.

“They didn’t ask for her name, make and model of the car,” Sparacio said. “They didn’t ask for the video of it being broken into. They just asked for the address, and they said in so many words, ‘Come back when someone gets hurt.’”

According to Sparacio, several of her roommates’ parents have called the Boston College Police Department (BCPD) regarding their children’s safety, but because they live off campus in Brighton, their house does not fall under BCPD’s jurisdiction.

“Some of our parents have also been saying, ‘Some of you don’t have four years of housing, so you guys were inevitably forced to live off campus,’” Sparacio said. “‘Therefore I feel like BC should be privy to some sort of your safety.’”

In her follow-up statement, Sparacio said that while she was offered four years on on-campus housing and chose to live off campus, her main concern was to raise awareness of suspicious activity for other students living off campus.

“We truly just want to feel safe in our own home, however that may be achieved,” she said in the statement.

In her statement, Kelly said BCPD has worked closely with BPD to increase patrols in off-campus neighborhoods on foot and by car.

“BC Police said that they have also sent out notifications to off-campus residents and met with students in the affected areas,” she said in the statement. “Police encourage anyone to report suspicious activity by calling BCPD or the Boston Police.”

In its community alert, BPD advised residents to contact authorities when they notice suspicious activities around their home.

“If you witness any suspicious activity or individuals in your neighborhood, please do not hesitate to contact 911 immediately,” the alert reads. “Your prompt reporting can help law enforcement respond swiftly and prevent further incidents.”

Sparacio said she bought vibration detectors for her windows, which she thinks may have deterred the masked man from breaking into their house on the night of Feb. 15.

“I bought these alarm detectors for the windows,” Sparacio said. “If anyone tries to pick up the window or bang on it, or try to crack it or anything, it’ll sound.”

Sparacio said her landlord has been proactive regarding the break-ins, installing motion-detecting lights and several Ring Video Doorbells.

“He put a motion-detecting sensor light on the back porch,” Sparacio said. “Then he got a Ring camera above the garage that basically captured the guy [trying to come] into our house, and now he’s getting a Ring camera for the back door.”

In its community alert, BPD said it is deeply concerned about the recent break-ins and is working diligently to address the situation.

“We understand the importance of community cooperation in keeping our neighborhoods safe,” the alert reads. “Together, we can work to deter criminal activity and ensure the safety and well-being of all residents.”

Update (March 1, 2024 2:45 p.m.): This article was updated from a previous version to include a statement from Dean of Students Corey Kelly.

Update (March 5, 2024 2:34 p.m.): This article was updated from a previous version to include a follow-up statement from Therese Sparacio, MCAS ’25.

March 1, 2024