Karya’s best friend, International Business Administration student Ipek, lives a few doors down the hall. Immediately after leaving Karya’s room, the intruder – by now joined by another man – pops up in Ipek’s room. She is in an adjacent room at the time, but she discovers the two thieves rummaging through the pockets of a coat hanging over her chair. Once again, the men leave the moment they are spotted. Fortunately, Ipek’s coat pockets are empty at the time, meaning neither she nor Karya have lost any belongings.

Four similar incidents

Nevertheless, the experience was quite unnerving, and the two students are scared that it will happen again. Because this is far from the first intrusion in the Kralingen building. Previously, Monica Panigrahy wrote in the student association magazine Estimator about her own experience being burglarised 1. In November, Monica discovered upon returning to her room that someone had stolen cash and some electronics. Since then, she says there have been at least four similar incidents. The SSH confirms through its spokesperson Madelon van Gameren that there have been ‘three or four incidents’. Ipek and Karya suspect that each time round, the burglaries are committed by the same duo: two tall, thin men aged between 25 and 30.

Another striking similarity: in each of the incidents, the victim’s door does not show any signs of forced entry. The student rooms in the building have electronic looks that can be opened with a plastic key fob. The rooms don’t have a physical double-lock. This electronic system also logs which transponder was used to open the door. According to the SSH, in each of these cases the system does not record the door being unlocked by a third party.

‘Close the door properly’

‘The police have looked through the video footage and the electronic locks don’t indicate the use of a second key’

Spokesperson SSH

So it still isn’t clear how the men got in. According to Van Gameren, the SSH assumes that the victims didn’t properly pull shut their doors. “The police have looked through the video footage and the electronic locks don’t indicate the use of a second key.” According to the housing corporation, this only leaves one explanation. “We have informed the building’s residents and called on them to always carefully shut their room door, their section door and the main entrance and to never let anyone they don’t know into the building.”

According to Ipek, Karya and Monica, this is putting things too simply. The three students can’t prevent other residents from letting unknown parties into the building – even though they’re faced with the consequences. Besides, in each of these cases, the victims themselves are convinced that they had closed their door properly. “And they explicitly said as much to the SSH,” notes Monica. Ipek: “The doors normally lock automatically when closed, you can’t even lock it yourself.”

‘Underwhelming’

slot in Erasmus International House

The students are frustrated by the underwhelming response so far on the part of the SSH. “Students are demanding increased security personnel and more cameras to be installed, none of which have been implemented yet. Both SSH and the police have organised resident meetings to address illegal parties but are remaining questionably silent on the matter of break-ins and robberies,” writes Monica in her article. The way Ipek sees it, it should have been easy for the SSH to reset all the locks in the building. “At any rate, we wouldn’t have been able to say they haven’t done anything. But even that was too much to ask for.”

According to spokesperson Van Gameren, the SSH immediately secured the building’s CCTV footage for the police upon hearing of the intrusions. “In addition, we have two student managers who are present in the complex 24 hours a day and also keep an eye out for anything unusual. The building manager visits the location more often than before. We have security on call, who can quickly make it to the property where required. And we remain in close contact with the police, who also regularly drive by the location, as an extra deterrent.” According to Van Gameren, simply reprogramming the fobs won’t do the trick, “[…] since we can already scan all the records as it is. We are currently studying whether it might help to install a magnetic lock that makes it easier to pull the door shut.”

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  1. In this article, she doesn’t go into the victim’s identity. But speaking with EM, she confirms it happened to her personally, and has given us permission to report this. ↩︎