The residents of the popular party house at 122 Uintah St. returned from Thanksgiving break to find their house had been ransacked and burglarized.
Police have discerned that the crime was likely committed on the morning of Nov. 30 around 10 a.m.
Police believe the perpetrators used a toolbox found in the house to unscrew bedroom door locks. They took televisions, cash, gaming consoles, computers, and a Subaru, but left bikes and other outdoor gear. The car was found on Thursday, Dec. 5in a church parking lot near the World Arena, but none of the other stolen goods have been recovered.
The crime constitutes second-degree burglary, forced entry, and aggravated motor vehicle theft. The number of suspects is unknown and the case is “open and ongoing,” according to the official Colorado Springs Police Department report.
Colorado College senior P.J. Higgins was the first of the 122 Uintah residents to return on Sunday from break. He spent the first few minutes at the house walking around amid destroyed belongings, broken furniture, trash, and strewn clothes.
“I was angry,” said Higgins. “It was like what you would see on TV.”
Soon after, Higgins called the Colorado Springs Police Department, who sent an officer to conduct an initial investigation. The CSPD officer, accompanied by Colorado College Campus Safety, analyzed the scene to determine a method of entry.
The investigation revealed no signs of damage upon entry, which indicates that the robbers likely entered through an unlocked door on the first floor of the residence.
Though the stolen car was recovered, the CSPD officer on the scene admitted to Higgins that there is little hope that their other belongings would be found.
“Unless you have the serial numbers, you probably won’t get it back,” Higgins remember the officer as saying. “So much stuff is being pawned and sold this time of year.”
“It was a rude awakening to come back to a house that had been so dismantled,” said senior Scott Prior who also lives at the residence. “It made me realize how fortunate I am to have spent the holidays with my family while others are robbing [burglarizing] houses.”
The inhabitants of 122 Uintah, most of them members of the Colorado College lacrosse team, spent their first night back from break sleeping on the sofas of neighbors and friends.
“My room was eerie and depressing, and I didn’t want to sleep there,” said 122 resident Will Harris.
Three weeks ago, the 122 residents and CC partygoers noticed suspicious activity at one of their parties. A friend of the residents observed an unknown male wandering around the second floor of the house.
Officer Jason Newton, the Colorado College campus resource officer, says that burglaries like the one at 122 Uintah are not uncommon at off-campus “party houses.” In fact, three burglaries and one theft have been reported at 122 Uintah within the past year alone.
Off-campus houses that host parties that are not exclusive to Colorado College students experience heavy traffic by CC students and Colorado Springs residents alike. Potential robbers use parties as a way to plan burglaries, says Newton.
According to Newton, the Colorado College Block Plan schedule is well known in the community and is another factor that makes CC student houses particularly susceptible to burglary during block breaks.
Last year, Officer Newton arrested a man outside of 222 Uintah St. after the man had taken multiple phones and wallets from a party. The man had been a repeat offender who drove down from Denver periodically to steal from Colorado College houses.
When asked about the 122 robbery, Colorado Springs Police Department Spokeswoman Barbara Miller said, “CSPD would strongly recommend that students always keep their doors locked – even if they’re in their apartment or home.”
Newton echoed this sentiment and offered a list of suggestions for Colorado College students that live off campus.
“Look at your house before you rent it,” said Newton. “Make sure you have proper, working locks.”
Newton also suggested CC students get to know their neighbors so that the neighborhood can recognize suspicious activity while students are away on weekends or block breaks. The CSPD also recommends that people write down the serial numbers of their valuable possessions. This makes it easier for police to identify stolen objects in pawnshops and other re-sale venues.
Additionally, Officer Newton suggests that students who live off campus request a free “CEPTED analysis.” CEPTED, which stands for crime prevention through environmental design, is a service offered to students by Newton and Campus Security to analyze the security of off-campus houses.
Newton has performed over ten CEPTED analyses in the past year and has helped students work successfully with their landlords to make their houses safer from burglary.
There was never a CEPTED analysis conducted at 122 Uintah.
The residents at 122 Uintah, sitting around a new TV on the second floor of their home, agreed that the burglary was a learning experience.
“At times you feel really safe because the CC community is so small,” said resident Jack Kreitler. “But we live in a big city, and you can never be too cautious.”
One of the housemates, nodding in agreement, looked up from the television and remarked, “What we really lost in the robbery was our peace of mind.”