Couple posed as parents during NSO, stole items from Houston Hall

DPS is gathering evidence in order to obtain a warrant to further pursue the suspects

· September 13, 2012, 11:58 pm

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A pair of Houston Hall thieves still remain at large.

During a New Student Orientation event on the afternoon of Aug. 30, a male and female couple posing as Penn parents stole several items, including multiple cell phones, from a Houston Hall second floor office.

Penn Police Chief Mark Dorsey described the couple as both in their late forties or fifties with heavy builds. The man has a medium-brown complexion, and the female has a light to medium complexion, shoulder length hair and wore a brace on her right forearm that day. Dorsey added that the couple might have used a green Ford Windstar as their getaway vehicle.

“We have a lot of leads that will help us zero in on them,” he said.

In an ongoing investigation, the Division of Public Safety is gathering evidence in order to obtain a warrant to further pursue the suspects. They are also comparing notes with both the Montgomery County Police and the Philadelphia Police. They hope this cooperation will help them capture the culprits more swiftly.

The couple contributed to a 175-percent increase — from four to 11 incidents — in building theft during this year’s NSO, compared to last year.

Dorsey said the large amount of parents on campus during move-in made it easier for them to steal the items.

Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said the open nature of the University was also a factor. “There are certain buildings on campus that will always be open, and people will be able to take advantage of that.”

Rush said there will be no extra crackdown on building security in response to this particular theft, but she hopes people will take more precautionary measures to prevent crimes like this.

“We are an open environment. Unfortunately, you just have to be mindful of your possessions,” she said.

Rush reiterated her motto that for a crime to be committed, there needs to be both motivation and opportunity. “The only way we can really stop crime is to take away opportunity. We need partnership from everyone in this university,” she said.

Dorsey asserted the importance of fighting crime as a community. He urged people to call Penn Police whenever they witness suspicious activity.

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