add_theme_support( 'post-thumbnails' );"Mask Man" Threatens Safety of Off-Campus Residents - BANG.
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"Mask Man" Threatens Safety of Off-Campus Residents

On late Thursday evening, October 13th, off-campus Boston College students were notified by the Boston College Police Department of an attempted break-in on Kirkwood Road. The individual was masked and had tried to enter the same residence on two different occasions that night. Then, on Wednesday, October 19th, the same masked individual was spotted around Kirkwood Road again. This time, the individual didn’t attempt to break into the house but instead was observing the area. Both of these situations were caught by the house’s Ring camera. This incident has resulted in increased surveillance by the Boston College Police Department around the area as well. 

The masked individual is described as an adult male around 6 feet tall and reported to be wearing a white REI zip-up rain hoodie, a light-colored cloth mask, and black gloves. 

While this has not been the first attempted break-in this academic year, this masked individual has triggered fear around campus. Sofia Lind, LSEHD ‘24, is worried about her safety as a student who lives off campus and has evening classes as well: "I’m a little worried for my safety, and especially at night, walking alone is particularly an anxiety-provoking experience." Historically, off-campus BC students, particularly houses, have been targets of break-ins or robberies, specifically on Gerald Street and Kirkwood Road. Last academic year, a string of attempted robberies resulted in computers, jewelry, and cash being stolen. There was also an incident in the past in which a man pretended to be someone from Verizon to work on maintenance for the cable lines for the house. 

In February 2022, there was a weekend "spree" of break-ins into at least four off-campus houses. The only valuables that were taken from the students’ houses were Apple computers, but jewelry, keys, and a PC weren’t stolen; they were clearly in sight. Apple laptops have been a common target of these off-campus break-ins throughout the past few years. In 2016, a house on Lake Street was robbed at gunpoint. While BC students were not the victims of this break-in, the resident was near other BC students' off-campus houses. In 2014, the infamous "Kirkwood Tickler" targeted BC off-campus residents. A man had been breaking into students’ houses and watching them sleep or tickling their feet. According to the police, there were at least ten sightings of the "tickler," and just on one night in April, there were at least three student reports of encountering him. This individual didn’t steal any valuables, but he did target BC students for two years. 

There are a few online resources that students can use to stay updated on off-campus break-ins. Citizen is a mobile app that sends users location-based safety alerts from real-time 911 alerts and also provides users access to instant help from crisis responders and safety tracking for friends and family. In 2020, BC also released a new safety app called the BC Safe App. One feature of the app is "Friend Walk," which allows individuals to select a contact and request that they keep an eye on their live location until they reach their final destination. There is also an emergency button to both alert the contact and the Boston College Police Department.  

As BC students’ off-campus residents are a part of a community outside of Boston College’s campus, this can make these houses and apartments more accessible for these kinds of incidents. The Boston College Police Department and William B. Evans, Boston College Chief of Police, have provided some advice for off-campus students to help mitigate the chances of their residences being broken into: 

  • Lock your doors and windows. This includes patio doors and windows on upper floors; keep those access points secured at all times.
  • Keep items such as ladders secured and away from your residence.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and get to know your neighbors.
  • Avoid leaving valuables in plain sight from windows.
  • Report suspicious activity and persons to the police immediately, with as much detailed information as possible.
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