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Three Crimes at MIT, But No Big Security Changes

By Emily M. Craparo

A Cambridge resident sleeping in the basement of East Campus will face trespassing charges after his arrest last Thursday. Two days later, the MIT Police were called to investigate an armed robbery in the vicinity of Bexley Hall, and yesterday morning, the police reported a second armed robbery near the MIT Museum.

Cambridge city resident Noel McKenzie was discovered sleeping in the East Campus boiler room last week by the house manager, said John E. Driscoll, deputy chief of the MIT Police.

House Manager Joseph F. Graham Jr. placed a call to the MIT Police at approximately 7:30 am, and police responded quickly to arrest the intruder, who admitted to having no MIT affiliation, Driscoll said.

McKenzie was found to possess a “small, suspicious box” containing an expensive piece of electronic equipment, Driscoll said. The police declined to describe the item further, saying that might hinder efforts to determine its original owner.

McKenzie was unable to prove ownership of the device, which is valued at approximately $1,300, and it was confiscated by the police.

No EC resident has reported missing the item, and Cambridge Police have not received any such report from a local business. Driscoll said that campus environments are generally a “good target of opportunity” for larceny, and urged that lost items be reported to the MIT Police immediately.

Currently, McKenzie is being charged with trespassing, although these charges may be upgraded pending a larceny report. Efforts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.

Only small changes to security

Security at East Campus has not changed much after the arrest. Driscoll said that MIT dormitories were already “in pretty good shape” where security is concerned, and that keycard entryways are effective in keeping non-residents out.

Following an armed robbery in a student’s room this past fall, Next House decided that desk workers had been too lax in bypassing the keycard system to allow non-residents entrance.

After the theft, the dormitory’s security was temporarily increased by requiring any non-resident to show an ID card and sign in. This policy has since lapsed.

Graham, the EC house manager, said that an effort is being made to ensure that entries remain locked, and that the dorm staff is “keeping an eye out” for suspicious activity.

EC Vice-President Emily E. Cofer ’04 said that although “a few people have concerns,” the majority of East Campus residents do not seem to be disturbed by the occurrence.

Mateusz K. Malinowski ’04, the EC president, wrote in an e-mail that residents were generally “unphased by the arrest.” Residents joked about the incident at a house meeting Wednesday night.

Armed Bexley suspect still at large

At 11:38 a.m. on April 19, the MIT Police received a report of a daylight robbery with a knife that Driscoll said was “very unusual.”

The victim, who is not affiliated with MIT, reported that $60 in cash and a credit card were stolen from him by a white male, approximately 5 feet 10 inches and 200 pounds with scruffy facial hair. The assailant wore black pants, a denim jacket, and a red hat.

The robber approached the victim asking for a “donation” and then produced a knife, the police said. The incident occurred in the alley between Bexley Hall and the Student Center plaza, where the victim was sitting in his parked car.

No suspect has been named, but MIT Police said they are working closely with the Cambridge Police Department to develop possible suspects.

Bexley residents seemed even less concerned about the knifepoint robbery than EC residents were about the arrest.

Many Bexley residents were unaware that the incident had happened. Bexley desk worker Leslie A. Robinson ’04 said she had heard about the occurrence, but could not recall any organized effort to inform the residents of it.

Armed robbery of MIT students

Most recently, a second armed robbery occurred in the MIT area. Two MIT students, who were not initially identified, were walking down State Street near the MIT Museum early yesterday morning, the MIT Police said in a bulletin, when two men, one of whom was carrying a handgun, approached the victims from behind and demanded their property.

The robbers took credit cards, $40 in cash and a laptop, the bulletin said. They were described as a black male, 18 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches and 165 pounds, wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt and black pants; and a second black male, also 18 years of age, 5 feet 6 inches, 140 pounds, wearing dark baggy clothes and possible also wearing a hooded sweatshirt.