Burglaries in Saratoga Terrace over winter break lead to University Police investigation

Townhouse residents arrived back from winter break to find their townhouses (pictured above) vandalized, with money and prescription drugs stolen. UPD is investigating the incident and trying to obtain futher information on how the townhouses were broken into as well as who the culprit(s) was (Kenji Nagayoshi/Staff Photographer).

Numerous residents of the Saratoga Terrace filed reports with the University Police Department about the condition of their homes and missing belongings upon arrival back to college after winter break. 

The burglaries are being explored by UPD and their investigation is ongoing. 

UPD Chief Thomas Kilcullen explained their investigation without specifics because it may tamper with their leads and the outcome of their investigation.

“Upon the students’ return we received a number of reports,” Kilcullen said. “Once we met a threshold, that is when we notified the entire community about what had taken place and what the response would be on our part: investigating the matter fully.”

The first email regarding the incident was sent out to students from Kilcullen on Jan. 22 and noted that the townhouses had been broken into. The email also included that “[UPD] are conducting a full investigation but as of my writing an arrest has not been made.”

“We have additional staff on duty to help with visibility and to support the investigation,” Kilcullen said. “We are also working with external law enforcement agencies to help us along with investigating this matter. We have a mutual aid agreement with the Livingston County Sheriff Department and the New York State Police. We have two state certified evidence technicians in the department, and they have been processing items from the various scenes and gathering evidence.” 

A follow-up email was sent again from Kilcullen on Monday Jan. 28 and stated that UPD had conducted interviews of members of both the college and external communities and has followed up on numerous leads. 

“Right now, we are looking at a burglary charge,” Kilcullen said. “I believe we have reached the threshold for grand larceny; both of which are felonies in this case, which is why we are aggressively pursuing this matter.”

The type and value of the property stolen in grand larceny charges exceeds $1,000 at the lowest degree, according to New York Penal Law 155.30.

Townhouse residents juniors Taya Coniglio and Louis Milucky explained that they first heard about the burglaries from other students.

“The Saturday before I came back to school, I called UPD because I had heard rumors from a group chat that the townhouses had been broken into,” Coniglio said. “When I called, I wasn’t able to speak with anybody who could give me more information. I would say that my largest complaint in all of this is that the school barely communicated with us.” 

There are 44 townhouses at the Saratoga Terrace housing 200 students. There are four-person and five-person housing options. 

“I personally didn’t have anything taken from me, but one of my housemates had about $500 stolen,” Coniglio said. “You could visibly tell from entering the house that somebody had went through our things. Every single room was torn apart, every box was opened, every cabinet. From what I have heard, everybody with a five-person house had been broken into, and money and pills were taken.”

An email was sent to the residents of the Saratoga Terrace from the Townhouse Coordinators before arriving back to campus, and only mentioned a composting initiative. There was no mention of the burglaries. 

“We couldn’t determine that a crime had taken place until somebody had come forward and said, ‘I am missing items from my home,’” Kilcullen said. “We were aware of some factual information in advance of the students arriving back, but it could not be perused further because we did not know if something had taken place until it was confirmed by students.”

There have been 58 cases of petit larceny on campus since November 2017, according to the Geneseo Crime Log updated by UPD.

“We trust the college to take care of the place that we live. Where were they while we were gone? We want to feel safe and secure in our home,” Milucky said. “We are left knowing that people can waltz in and waltz out with what might be our belongings. It feels like nobody cares about our safety. I would be more conformable if there was a security camera.”

According to an article published by The Lamron in February 2017 regarding suggested increased security cameras, the University Police Department places cameras around campus on an ad-hoc basis when, at their discretion, they are used to help solve a case or in response to an individual’s expressed safety concern. 

“There is not surveillance at the Saratoga townhouses. Certainly, if you have IP-video in place, it is a force multiplier. When you have incidents like this, it will help in the investigation there-of. It is a challenge sometimes, but it is not insurmountable,” Kilcullen. said. “We would welcome more than we have on the campus now, but we understand and respect the fiscal concerns and limitations.”

Security camera use on campus is considered appropriate when it enhances “the protection of individuals, equipment and facilities, the monitoring of public areas, the monitoring of building entrances and exits and the investigation of criminal activity,” according to the Geneseo Security Camera Policy updated last in March 2007.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact the University Police Department (UPD) at (585) 245-5222.