A possibly armed robber stole a laptop from a student on the fifth floor of Baker House yesterday evening at 5 p.m. The student was approached from behind and felt something stuck in his back. The assailant demanded the student’s laptop, acquired it, and then fled the scene. Though no weapon was clearly identified, the victim saw the suspect with “something shiny” as he fled, according to a police bulletin. The suspect was described as a tall black male wearing a dark raincoat and carrying a black backpack. He has not been apprehended, and nobody was injured in the incident.
Police cleared all students out of Baker House around 6:10 p.m. with a fire alarm, possibly to search the area for the suspect. Students were readmitted to the building around 6:50 p.m. Police continued to circulate through the building for several hours, walking through halls encouraging students to close their doors and stay wary. One police officer remained at Baker desk throughout the evening, and an extra nighwatch guard was assigned to patrol the dorm.
A meeting held last night in Baker addressed the incident and the community’s safety concerns.
“No one was hurt,” wrote Donna M. Denoncourt, director of residential life programs, in an email to baker-official recommending students come to the meeting to learn more about “support systems on campus.”
About 50 students attended the meeting, which was initially intended to be a Baker-wide study break.
“It’s been a strange week,” Denoncourt said at the meeting, “We want to make sure that you are all aware of what’s happening.”
Denoncourt reminded students of the phone numbers for the MIT Police, S^3, and MIT Mental Health and encouraged them to look out for their friends.
“If you have a friend that you’re worried for,” she said, “Please, reach out to them.”
The additional security officers stationed at Baker were just “an extra level of security,” clarified Denoncourt. There was no concern that the suspect was still in the building, she said. She also cautioned students to be aware of “tailgaters” — nonresidents who come through card-access doors behind a resident.
It is standard protocol at Baker for nonresidents to sign in and out at desk, and have their Baker host escort them into the building.
Alissa A. Totman ’13, a Baker resident, noticed a lot of police cruisers as she entered Baker yesterday evening. About ten minutes later, the fire alarm went off, and she saw police in the lobby.
“I knew it wasn’t a normal fire alarm because of all the cop cars,” she said.
Totman, also a Baker desk worker, says the incident has made her “more concerned about working desk” and “makes me want to pay more attention.” She notes that “other dorms are way more strict than we are” when it comes to letting people in.
Emails circulated through various desk mailing lists cautioned desk workers against nonresidents. Desk workers were urged to check IDs before letting unidentified people into the dorm, and to call the police if they saw anything suspicious.
Emma F. Broderick ’14, a sophomore who worked at Baker desk from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. yesterday, was in her room when the Baker fire alarm went off around 6 p.m.
You never expect this to happen, she said, but “when it actually does, it emphasizes [the importance] that the people coming into the dorm are the people we want coming in.”
Students who see suspicious persons in their dorm should talk to their GRTs immediately or contact the MIT police.