The independent news organization of Duke University

University officials respond to concerns about Central Campus safety, security cameras

The University has spent more than a million dollars on campus security on Central Campus, but two recent crimes there continue to raise concerns.

Both a car theft and a burglary took place between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 13 at 1900 Yearby Avenue. The thieves broke into the apartment of junior Christopher Hill and his roommate, and the latter had his car stolen. Hill said that after speaking with the Duke University Police Department, he believes that the burglary and car theft are connected. 

“We strongly suspect [the crimes are connected] because [my roommate’s] keys were found missing from the room at the exact same time that my belongings were taken,” Hill said. “We’re pretty sure they are the same.”

Duke Today report released Monday evening confirmed that DUPD has issued warrants for the arrests of Durham residents Rollin Anthony Owens, Jr. and Veronica Robinson. They are charged with breaking and entering and numerous counts of felonious larceny in this case. 

An investigation report obtained from DUPD from April 13 reported $19,950 in property stolen. The stolen items included a $4,500 watch, $300 Bose speakers, two iPads worth $400 in total and a silver 2013 Ford Escape worth $15,000.

However, Hill said DUPD was able to track all the items except for his roommate's car to several pawn shops in Durham. He commended their handling of the investigation and said he expects to see his items returned once DUPD receives warrants for seizure.

These incidents came after several other thefts on campus. For example, four black TaoTao mopeds have been stolen from West Campus and Central Campus since March 7. Hill questioned why there were not more security cameras on Central Campus, especially given these recent robberies.

"It makes sense to me that there should be some security cameras on Central Campus. It's arguably the most exposed part of campus, and it's the least densely populated,” he said. “It would make a lot of sense to me that they would have some level of security camera surveillance on Central Campus."

Vice President for Administration Kyle Cavanaugh contends the University has in fact dedicated considerable resources to Central Campus. He wrote in an email that the University has added security cameras on Central Campus as part of a pilot program, but would not give out their location for security purposes. 

An assessment of the program will be made during the summer, he wrote.

“More investment has been made in Central Campus, related to security, than any other section of Duke [in the last three years],” Cavanaugh wrote. “Including the increase in staffing, new door locks, fencing, lighting and other initiatives, the overall investment has exceeded a million dollars," he wrote. 

DUPD Police Chief John Dailey confirmed last week in an email that more than 800 new security cameras have recently been installed "across campus." Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, wrote via email that new security cameras have been installed for East Campus residence halls. The University is considering cameras for West Campus residence halls, he added.  

Cavanaugh wrote that cameras have been added to all parking garages, as well as the entries and exits of several buildings, but would not specify exact locations for security purposes.