harnwelltheft
Photo: Bonnie Mendelson

College junior Kara Dang woke up in early September to discover that nearly $1,000 of clothing had been stolen from her dorm room in Harnwell College House.

Dang isn't alone — multiple students have reported incidents of theft, and some of them think that the college house has not done enough to prevent similar crimes from happening again. 

Dang, who lives in a triple on the 19th floor of Harnwell, said she left her door unlocked on Sept. 8, the night that the theft occurred. She said that one of her roommates, College junior Anh Cao, was awake during the crime, but thought that the intruder or intruders were their third roommate returning home.

“It was around 3 a.m., and someone had come into our room and taken stuff from the living room as well as one of my roommate’s rooms,” Dang said.

After realizing they had been robbed, Dang and her roommates decided to investigate whether their situation was unique.

“We took it on our own part to kind of just ask around, to see if anyone had the same problems, see if it was a reoccurring thing," Dang said. "We found out that it has happened on multiple floors of Harnwell.”

Another recent victim of clothing theft in Harnwell was College junior Christina Shin, who discovered that various pieces of her clothing were stolen from the laundry room on two occasions. 

Shin said that she had initially attributed the missing clothing to her own forgetfulness, but when it happened a second time, she was sure that someone had taken her belongings. Shin added that the machine was already stopped, even though she had made sure to return before the end of the cycle.

Shin asked her residential advisor, College senior Emily Marucci, whether similar incidents had taken place, and Shin said that Marucci told her that theft has been a recurring issue at Harnwell.

When contacted for comment, Marucci, like multiple RAs, directed The Daily Pennsylvanian to Harnwell House Dean Courtney Dombroski. 

Dombroski declined to comment and directed the DP to the Penn Police Department via email. 

Director of Communications and External Relations for Penn Business Services Barbara Lea-Kruger said in an email that the DP should reach out to the Division of Public Safety. 

Dang and her roommates reported the incident to Penn Police and said that a detective has been assigned to the case. 

"We have a few reports of missing or lost property and one report of theft in Harnwell since the beginning of the semester. None of the reports appear to be related," said Director of Operations and External Affairs for DPS Kathleen Shields Anderson. 

After items were stolen from Dang’s dorm, the Harnwell Sun, the house's newsletter, included a warning on Sept. 12 to residents, reminding them to lock their doors.


Dang said she and her roommates were disappointed by this initial response. 

“We explicitly asked that they notify everyone and it was just sort of a subtle 'Remember to lock your doors.' No one is gonna lock their door just because you told them to — they're going to lock their door if they know things have been stolen,” she said.

Several days after their first notification in the Harnwell Sun, the house dean sent out another email on Sept. 15 informing residents that items had been stolen.

“Please be sure to shut and lock your doors. Recently, some apartment doors weren't locked and items were stolen. These incidents have been reported to [Penn Police] and they are investigating, but please do lock your doors,” Dombroski wrote in the email.

Other Harnwell residents also feel that the college house’s methods of dealing with the thefts have been inadequate. 

College seniors Destiny Bingham and Sana Bukari said they received the warning emails, but had no idea that they were sent out in response to a recent series of thefts in the building.

“It was very general. I was just like, 'Yeah, we are gonna keep our doors locked.' They didn’t tell us the background story,” Bingham said about the email.

Bukari agreed, explaining that more elaboration on what was going on could have adequately raised student awareness about the situation.

Neither Bingham nor Bukari had been victims of theft, and both said they regularly lock their doors, but Bingham noted that, on rare occasions, her door does not fully close unless it is pulled shut.

“Knowing that there is theft going on and they haven’t really been telling us isn’t really a good thing because we’d like to know that we need to protect our stuff more carefully,” Bukari said.

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