Crime, fire hit off-campus housing
By JASON McFARLEY
Assistant News Editor
Changed locks and straigtened door frames offer little proof of a series of break-ins and attempted burglaries at College Park. And visible signs of fire and smoke damage at Castle Point Apartments aren't as evident as a month ago.
But the two local apartment complexes, popular among off-campus Notre Dame and Saint Mary's students, will have to deal with some concerns over safety following issues that arose while most students were away on vacation.
College Park break-ins
Between Christmas and Jan. 13, two College Park apartments were robbed and about five others showed signs of attempted break-ins, according to building manager P.R. Gibson. The apartments were located within the same unit of the all-student Bulla Road complex.
Gibson said the robbed apartments exhibited no signs of forcible entry. He said computer and telephone equipment taken from one residence was valued at $200. A checkbook was taken from the other apartment.
"This is the first time we've had something like this happen here. It's pretty unusual," Gibson said. "But I'm sure this was the work of teenagers."
College Park resident Megan Monserez agrees.
Monserez, a Mishawaka native, said she made weekly trips to her apartment to ensure its safety. On Saturday, Monserez returned to her apartment to find damages that "looked like someone had taken a crowbar to our door frame."
"I was scared, and I didn't go in immediately. The deadbolt had held, and I knew [burglars] hadn't gotten in, but I was worried because I had no concept of how long ago it had happened," said Monserez, a Notre Dame senior.
"Now I think that whoever did this was just someone taking advantage of the fact that no one was home," she said.
No formal security was provided for the apartments while most occupants were on vacation, but Gibson said he monitored the complex during Notre Dame and Saint Mary's month-long break. He acknowledged that he was probably out of town when the crimes took place.
Gibson said apartments that sustained damages will have the locks changed or receive new door frames. Tuesday night, all but one of the repairs had been done.
The crimes apparently haven't eroded College Park residents' feelings of safety.
"I don't feel like intruders are going to try to break in and hurt me," said Monserez's roommate, Darcie Zwilling, also a Notre Dame senior. "This is still a place I consider to be safe."
Fire at Castle Point
It wasn't crime — but rather a freak accident — that factored into recent security concerns at Castle Point Apartments.
A Dec. 18 fire at the complex, located along Cleveland Road, resulted in no injuries but forced occupants of one building to evacuate, according to South Bend fire officials.
The fire and smoke and water damage associated with it was contained to the Coachmans Trail section of Castle Point, said Chief Timm Schabbel of the Clay Township Fire Department.
Several fire departments, including Notre Dame, were called in to battle the blaze, which broke out in the early evening.
Officials said maintenance workers attempting to thaw a frozen first-floor pipe with a torch are responsible for the fire. They said a bird's nest located between between a wall likely ignited, and the fire spread to the building's second floor and then to the attic.
It was unclear Tuesday if any of the occupants of the evacuated units were Notre Dame or Saint Mary's students. Contacted Tuesday, representatives at Castle Point were unavailable for comment.
All News Stories for Wednesday, January 17, 2001