Car break-ins burst Butler bubble

Cars parked off-campus are at risk of break-ins. Photo by Jada Gangazha. 


Recent reports of car break-ins are forcing students to reevaluate the trust they have in the security of Butler’s campus. On Sept. 8, Butler students received a Timely Warning via email from the Department of Public Safety, notifying them of the break-ins and detailing the events. While none of the current reports include extensive damage, students on and off campus alike worry about what this means for the safety of their vehicles and belongings. 

According to a statement authorized within the Timely Warning by John Conley, chief of public safety, “There have been groups of unknown individuals pulling on car door handles as they walk down the street, looking for unlocked vehicles and searching for valuables.” These offenses took place during the evening of Sept. 7 into the morning of Sept. 8. Similar events have not been reported since. 

Upon review of the Butler University Police Department Daily Crime Log and Fire Report, the majority of these incidents occurred on Berkley Road and West 44th Street, both of which are primarily used for parking for off-campus senior living. In these locations, vehicles are parked either directly in front of or in a driveway behind the resident’s home. 

Tucker Neff, a senior healthcare and business major, noticed his vehicle had been rifled through when he went to leave his home on the morning of Sept. 8, and the driver and passenger car doors were left wide open. His wallet was the only item taken. 

“I never had the thought that my stuff could get stolen,” Neff said. “But ever since then, it has completely changed. My roommates and I have talked, and I think we are going to get a Ring system.” 

The majority of the reports stated unlawful entry, while only three reports cited theft. In most scenarios that involved theft, money was the only item taken, as opposed to objects of monetary value. In all cases, doors and compartments were left ajar upon discovery. 

Amelia Moor, a sophomore healthcare and business major, has a designated parking spot behind the Alpha Chi Omega sorority house. When going to her car to leave campus, she found her glove box open and the contents seemingly rummaged through. Moor expressed that she previously felt secure in the Butler bubble, a term used to describe the separation of the university from the rest of the city of Indianapolis. After the break-in, however, her sense of security faltered. 

“In the Butler bubble, you feel safe and like no one would ever do that to you,” Moor said. “But there is a community surrounding us that is very close by and can impact our safety.” 

Matthew Grimes, the community relations officer for Butler University Police Department (BUPD), has been on Butler’s campus for over five years and has never seen a string of vehicle break-ins to this extent. 

“This was a crime of opportunity,” Grimes said. “In all cases, every single glove box was open, and every single center console was open. The best way to prevent this type of crime again is to not keep anything of value in your car.” 

Grimes said on their end, BUPD is currently responding to the situation to the best of their ability. 

“We have increased our patrol, and all the officers are aware of it,” Grimes said. “We are maintaining that police presence so that [no one will want to] come back.” 

University administration and BUPD recommend three tips to the Butler community to think ahead and be as cautious as possible. First, lock the vehicle, even if one is stepping away for a brief period of time. Second, avoid leaving valuables in the car, this can lower the collateral damage of a break-in or prevent it completely. If valuables must remain in the vehicle, consider placing them in the trunk or glove compartment. Third, stay vigilant and alert BUPD of any suspicious activity. 

To report any suspicious events, such as unfamiliar activity in parking areas or someone looking into vehicles, call BUPD’s emergency phone number immediately at 317-940-9999 and provide as much information as safely possible. BUPD also has an active presence on Instagram. Under the username @butlerupolice, they notify students about opportunities like community forums where officers can answer questions.


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