A contractor hired to install new keyless locks on dorm room doors was charged with the theft of jewelry and watches from multiple student rooms last week, the Department of Public Safety reported. In response, the University has delayed the activation of the new keyless doors and will increase oversight on the contractors who work in dorms.
On July 24, Public Safety arrested Ian Thomas Holthenrichs, 23, of Pipersville, Pa., in connection with alleged thefts in 1903 Hall, and he is a suspect in additional reported thefts in Cuyler Hall. According to the University, two thefts were reported in 1903 and five in Cuyler.
When he was arrested, Holthenrichs was also allegedly found in possession of female underwear. He was charged with theft and drug possession, according to Public Safety Administrative Captain Donald Reichling.
The incidents occurred as the Housing Department upgraded the locks in those two halls as part of its new policy to implement a keyless lock system by the beginning of the new academic year.
A female junior living in Cuyler for the summer, who was granted anonymity because she is a victim of a crime, said that housing personnel came to her room on Monday of last week at around 8 a.m. to replace the locks. She soon left for work and came back at noon to find all the doors in her hallway propped open at the same time with recycling bins.
She reported that she had jewelry stolen. She added that several other female students in the dorm had their underwear stolen.
University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua noted in an email that the contractor, Hogan Security Group, is in charge of the installation, but not the actual activation, of the new locks. Mbugua said the incident prompted the University to postpone the activation of the new keyless lock system until mid-August, when very few rooms will be occupied. The activation will be conducted by University personnel, he said.
Mbugua said there had been no concerns about the company's work or employees in the past. Holthenrichs had only worked at the group for six weeks, Mbugua said. He has been fired.
Mbugua added that the University will take measures to ensure that each individual contractor or group of workers will be accompanied by a University employee while working on the locks. The University will now also change its protocol so that doors are not left open to entry and unattended.
The thefts in 1903 were reported last Tuesday, the same day as the arrest of Holthenrichs. After the thefts in Cuyler were reported last Wednesday, Mbugua said that DPS sent an email to the residents of Cuyler and 1903 with a campus safety warning and to inform them that an arrest had already been made.
Hogan Security Group President Daniel Hogan declined to comment because the investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Hogan was interviewed by the specialized website Security Today in early July about the specifics of replacing locks in the Princeton dorms. “First of all, we are very conscious about making a mess and protecting the private property of the students’ rooms,” he said.
Associate News Editor Luc Cohen contributed reporting.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/08/01/31047/