Holiday break-in ravages home

‘It doesn’t feel like our house anymore’

The tenants of a University Ave. house sit in their now-bare living room.
The tenants of a University Ave. house sit in their now-bare living room.
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The Grinch paid a visit to Kingston over the Christmas holidays.

Catherine Flint and Adar Charlton, both ArtSci ’09, arrived in Kingston to find their belongings had vanished last Sunday night—the house was empty.

“I seriously thought it was a joke at first,” Flint said, adding that the police said they’ve never seen a break-in like this in a student house.

She said police said the house, located near Princess Street on University Avenue, was one of more than 100 broken into over the break.

Kingston Police Inspector Brian Cookman said the police have a system in place for long holidays called “Project Grinch.”

“Around the whole season we start ramping up our presence with uniformed officers as well as plain-clothed officers and officers in vehicles,” Cookman said.

Tenant Liz Prieur, ArtSci ’09, said police didn’t think the front door was forced open.

“There was a screen off the window,” she said, adding the police thought the intruders got in through the window.

Tenant Deana Georgas, ArtSci ’09, said police think the house was broken into between Christmas Day and New Years Day.

She said the house was locked and lights were left on to make it look like someone was home, but the tenants didn’t close the blinds.

The landlord was co-operative when he heard about the break-in, driving to Kingston from Toronto and offering to reduce January’s the rent by 50 per cent, Georgas said.

Items taken from the main living area include an espresso maker, a coffee maker, liquor, a couch, a coffee table, a television, a DVD player, a karaoke player, DVDs, a stereo, lamps, a curtain, kitchen chairs, a shoe rack and even light bulbs, she said.

Upstairs, the intruders stole two more televisions, three printers, four guitars, an iPod dock, four pairs of speakers, thousands of dollars worth of jewellery, three nightstands, multiple alarm clocks, a passport, a SIN card, mirrors, purses, duvet covers, a video camera, a discman, a webcam, teddy bears and, from one room, an entire set of clothing.

Flint said Kingston police were responsive when they found out how severe the break-in was.

Not only did the intruders clear the house of most of its valuables, but they left some things of their own. There were needles and blood stains in the living room, a bloody pair of scissors in a closet and some blood in one of the beds. There was also a white liquid on one of the bedroom floors.

“Our sense of security’s totally violated,” Charlton said.

The police sent a DNA sample to Toronto for forensic testing but the results won’t be in for a couple of months, Flint said.

Tenant Heather Giroux, ArtSci ’09, came home to find blood on her bed and a photograph of her and her grandfather missing from her room.

“That was the worst part—everything will get replaced, but it’s that feeling that we felt safe here before,” she said, adding the intruders left every window open.

“It doesn’t feel like our house anymore,” she said.

The tenants’ parents’ insurance will cover most of the losses.

Giroux said she was going to arrange for the AMS “Holiday Housecheck” service, but the landlord’s property manager was supposed to check the house over the break.

Landlord Dean Gaber, who said he owns five or six houses, said he had two people monitoring his properties. He said he has confirmed that all of his houses were monitored over the break, but he’s not sure what day the last inspection happened.

Gaber said he’s giving his tenants a $1,500 credit to buy new furniture.

“We’re doing everything possible to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

Some of his other properties have bars on the windows, he said, and his tenants on University Ave. will be installing an alarm system.

The tenants plan to stay in their house for the remainder of their time at Queen’s.

“This is disruptive, but picking up your stuff and leaving is more disruptive,” Georgas said.

“It’d be even worse if they robbed us and we ran away.”

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