Break-in at Shepley dorm; four non-WashU individuals facing charges

, and | Contributing Writers and Junior News Editor

Alan Zhou | Student Life

After an incident occurred at Shepley House at 12:13 a.m. on Monday, four individuals who are not affiliated with Washington University in St. Louis are facing pending criminal charges.  

On Monday just before noon, the Washington University Police Department (WUPD) sent out a security memo to the student body, informing members of the community that an incident had occurred just 12 hours prior.

The memo states that four subjects went to the second floor of Shepley and knocked on a suite door, which led the students inside to look through the peephole, partially open the door, and then close it again “after the subjects said something unintelligible to them.” 

The students went into their individual rooms and heard a loud noise, before returning to the common room where they observed that someone had damaged their door.

“Nothing appeared to have been taken and there were no injuries reported,” the memo said. 

In a statement provided to Student Life, WUPD said that they received a call making them aware of the incident at 12:35 a.m., by which time the four individuals had already left campus.

“WUPD was able to confirm through CCTV that the four subjects entered the Shepley House by following or ‘tailgating’ a WashU student into the dorm,” the department said. 

Tailgating occurs when someone enters a building after a student swipes their key card to gain access and unlock the door, thereby allowing them to get into a facility without needing valid WashU identification. 

Although WUPD said that it is not releasing information about the four individuals responsible for the incident due to the ongoing investigation, they confirmed that all four were located and criminal charges are pending with the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

“The criminal charges are still pending but this is the only outstanding, and ongoing, aspect of this investigation,” the department said. 

Despite the fact that this incident occurred within Shepley, some residents were unaware of what happened until they received the security memo along with every other WashU student. 

One resident, who wished to remain anonymous and who will be referred to as X, said that they did not receive any communication specifically geared towards Shepley students. 

“No email. Nothing on teams,” X said.

Another Shepley resident was not aware of the break-in even after the memo was sent.

“I honestly didn’t know there was one,” they said, “I’m pretty positive my suitemates haven’t heard [anything] either.”

Some students have expressed that they feel more on-edge after the break-in. 

“It was scary because I’d never heard of anything like that happening before,” X said. “But I was happy that they caught them.”

In the wake of the event, some students have responded by taking tape off the side of their door frame, a practice that is commonly used by students so that the lock can’t engage and the door can be pushed open without having to use a key. 

“I don’t think anyone’s [used] extra precautions except taking tape off the door,” another Shepley resident said.

Others have begun being more wary of who they let into their dorm buildings. 

“I think you have to be smart,” X said. “You’ve got to be careful with who you’re letting into the building and if you’re careful with that then you should be fine.”

In the security memo, WUPD listed safety tips, including reporting suspicious activity, not letting unknown people into buildings, and locking your doors.

For students who have been affected, WUPD told Student Life that the Office of Residential Life has provided resources.

“WUPD immediately coordinated with our WashU partners,” the department said. “ResLife and Student Affairs have been actively involved from the onset of this incident and will continue to coordinate with the impacted students.”

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