Criminal cases: Things that go bump in the night (and sometimes during the day) on the St. Kate’ s campus in St. Paul

Underage drinking is a common offense on college campuses. But this past semester at St. Kate’s resulted in a vehicle stolen out of the campus’ library parking lot and other more intrusive crimes, such as the repeated invasion of campus buildings and personal space.

Benjamin McCabe, who works for the Residence Life office, received a call towards the end of the first month of fall semester. One of the Resident Assistants was in her room when she noticed a flyer being slipped under her door from the other side. As she opened the door to look, she noticed a male moving down the hallway, repeating the process. When she attempted to stop him, he took off. The RA later called McCabe to report the telephone number and name of the establishment on the flyer: Fortune Wok.

“I made three calls,” McCabe said. “I’m willing to bet they’ve been in the building more times than I’ve known of.”

In the reported incidents, Fortune Wok employees would follow students into the building to make it past the keycard locks. When called and confronted about the first two cases of entering without an escort and leaving flyers, a Fortune Wok employee at their establishment insisted that the two incidents were at the same time. She claimed the reports were somehow mistaken, that they happened on the same date.

When confronted later about Fortune Wok employees who entered the Georgia apartments in the middle of the night and left flyers that were found the next morning, the woman simply hung up.

“They were trying to drum up business,” said McCabe of the incident with the Fortune Wok employees, whom he hasn’t heard of trespassing since his final call in. “I’m sure all the pizza places would like to come through and hang up flyers but we don’t allow that.”

Other incidents this year included the theft of a campus community member’s vehicle out of the Library parking lot a week after the beginning of classes. Investigation into a theft in late October turned up surveillance images of a white male in a baseball cap going through private and office spaces and checking doors.

“If we need to we can pull archived reportings,” said David Skelton of Public Safety. “We record everything for varying lengths of time. As far as actively monitoring we can’t have one person actively watching the camera at all times.”

Public Safety patrols campus in their vehicles and their officers keep an eye out for suspicious activity, but Skelton emphasizes that the most help comes from campus community members who actively witness events within their respective corners of campus.

The Department of Public Safety classifies by three levels of incidents, with what are called Timely Warnings posted throughout campus for Critical/Major incidents. Urgent notifications are usually done through the St. Kate’s Alert, a text-based notification system, which can usually reach students more quickly than email will.

Public Safety officers are not allowed to carry firearms, given that they are not sworn officers of law enforcement. They are authorized to make citizen arrests and they carry handcuffs, a baton, and pepper spray. But usually when they feel there’s a crime being committed that warrants an arrest, they call in St. Paul police officers.

Parking violations and other typical calls for service are kept in Public Safety’s own files but more important violations, whether concerning state laws or campus policies, are made available on the St. Kate’s Public Safety website.

“Le Guide has what pertains to students,” said Skelton. “We have our own policies relating to parking, fire pit use, things like that. And then there’s also campus wide policies that Residence Life puts out. So there’s a variety of places. There are links on our site to everything we can think of, as well as our own policies.”
Other sectors of campus try to raise awareness for crime as well, such as library employees who leave a friendly reminder note on unattended items, emphasizing how they are at risk for theft. Overall, the campus has low rates of crime.

The 2014 statistics are still being compiled and are not yet available but the Public Safety website publishes an Annual Security Report, the most recent of which carries statistics from 2011 to 2013. Liquor and drug law violation referrals are among the most prevalent crimes. There have been five cases of burglary on campus and one case of motor vehicle theft on campus in the most recent three years reported. Cases of trespass were not listed.

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