No campuswide e-mail after burglaries

Two Blanding Tower women report break-ins; UK police say incidents were likely isolated

By Alice Haymond

UK did not issue a campuswide alert after a man unlawfully entered at least two different females’ Blanding Tower rooms this weekend because university police and administrators said it was not an imminent threat to the rest of campus.

“We had discussions with public relations, and because this was an advisory, everyone was in agreement that a broadcast e-mail … was not necessary, simply because it was isolated to Blanding Tower,” said Christy Giles, director of the Office of Emergency Management.

Women in two Blanding Tower rooms were awakened early in the morning over the weekend to see an unknown man who had entered while they were sleeping. UK police are investigating the burglary incidents, both of which happened in unlocked rooms on the seventh floor, one early Saturday morning and the other early Sunday morning.

The suspect, who is described as a tall, thin white man with blond hair, fled the rooms without taking anything when the residents noticed him, said interim police chief Maj. Joe Monroe.

Although the police have not yet identified the suspect, Monroe said he is probably a student who resides in Blanding Tower based on the video footage and other information police have gathered. For this reason, he said, it is likely the incident was isolated and would not spread to other residence halls.

So rather than issue a campuswide alert, administrators issued an advisory to people in Blanding Tower and nearby areas who might be affected by the burglaries, Giles said. The advisory consisted of signs posted on every floor of Blanding Tower and the lobby; UK did not have a way to e-mail only Blanding Tower residents, Giles said.

But some residents did not notice the signs. Christopher Salata, a marketing sophomore who lives on the ninth floor, said he does not usually pay attention to signs in the lobby because there are many that usually do not pertain to him. Most people would be likely to notice an e-mail advisory, he said, but it would be helpful if resident advisers talked to students about the incident.

“I’m the worst at checking e-mail,” he said. “The only way for someone to let me know is if they sent a Facebook message, called me or told me when I walked into the dorm.”

Of the seven warnings UK police has posted on its Web site ( during the 2007-08 school year, this is the second that has not accompanied a campuswide e-mail. The first was last week when an assault was reported from the Lexington Theological Seminary across from the Law Building.

A man attacked a woman on Feb. 19 inside the seminary with a knife and attempted to tear off her clothing, according to the release. She escaped, but the suspect was not caught.

UK did not send a campuswide e-mail about that incident because it was off campus, Monroe said. The police posted it as a courtesy to make people aware of their surroundings, he said.

UK police issue a campus safety alert when “a credible threat to the personal safety or property has been identified or has occurred,” according to the 2007 Campus Safety and Security Report.

“It wasn’t an alert,” said UK spokesman Jay Blanton about the burglary incidents, “(Alerts) tend to involve an imminent threat or acts of violence that occur on campus.”

The two situations in Blanding Tower over the weekend were issues of criminal trespassing, Blanton said, and UK wanted to warn students to be on guard and lock their dorm room doors as a matter of general precaution.

“A residence hall isn’t different from your house,” he said. “You don’t leave your house without locking your door.”