Burglary at DeWolfe Foiled

Resident catches intruder during early-morning attempted burglary

An unidentified man broke into a second-story suite at 20 DeWolfe St. early yesterday morning—only to flee after a surprise encounter with one of its residents. This marks the second time that the room has been broken into this academic year.

The man, wearing a gray New England Patriots cap and a black leather jacket, entered the suite at approximately 5:17 a.m., according to resident Ho A. Tuan ’09, who had just returned from a late-night study session.

Tuan said that he and the stranger stared speechlessly at each other for a moment, until Tuan asked the man what he was doing in his room.

The intruder responded by asking Tuan if he had change for a dollar.

Tuan said he continued to demand an explanation for the man’s entrance, but the stranger would only elaborate that his mother had sent him up here to get change for a dollar—even pulling out a dollar bill.

“The man was more frightened to be there than I was,” Tuan said. “It seemed like he was ready to dart.”

Tuan said that as he started to approach the intruder, the man suddenly yelled, “Okay, I get it,” and then bolted out the door.

In an e-mailed statement, Harvard University Police Department spokesman Steven G. Catalano wrote that officers were dispatched to the scene at approximately 5:30 a.m. The case is still under investigation, but Catalano said that “at this time we do not feel that there is a continuing public safety threat to the community.”

Tuan said he roused his roommate, Grant W. Dasher ’09, to inform him of the situation before proceeding to dash from the room in an attempt to apprehend the suspect. However, he said he was unable to run out to the street because he was barefoot.

Dasher said he was too surprised and groggy to follow his roommate.

“I was sitting there thinking what on earth is going on,” he said. “Why would someone enter a lit room while its residents were still awake?”

Tuan and Dasher said nothing was taken from the room during the incident.

This is not the first time the three residents of this room have experienced a break-in. Earlier this year, an iPod and video camera were stolen from their residence. The robber left a note in the form of a PowerPoint presentation on Dasher’s computer that insulted the roommates and Dasher’s concentration.

Since the first robbery, the three roommates have been very careful to lock their door, leaving it open only when they were present in the room, Dasher said.

According to Catalano, burglaries in Harvard housing saw a 52 percent decrease in 2006 from the year before. Last year, there were 42 robberies in undergraduate residences.

Eight incidences of theft in undergraduate housing were reported to HUPD in January and February of this year. Three weeks ago, an intruder was apprehended for attempted robbery of an occupied Kirkland House bedroom.

—Staff writer Jamison A. Hill can be reached at jahill@fas.harvard.edu.