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Attempted burglary adds to recent campus crime

Mills College suffered its fourth crime incident in two weeks Thursday morning when a suspect entered a staff member’s office, struck her and evaded pursuit by Public Safety.

On Nov. 19 at about 10:30 a.m., Michael Lopez, director of Public Safety, said the department received a phone call from a staff member in the Cowell building informing them that someone suspicious was seen coming out of an office.

The suspect, who Public Safety has a picture of, pushed two Cowell staff members before running from the building. The suspect exited through the rear door and was last seen running through the Lucie Stern building complex, according to Lopez. He said Public Safety believes the suspect jumped into the creek and followed the creek off campus.

Toni Blackwell, assistant dean of student services, said she and other staff confirmed the suspect against the photo officers showed them.  Blackwell’s office is next door to that of Kate Dey, where the attempted burglary took place.

Blackwell said Dey had stepped out of her office for a moment, and on her way back in encountered the suspect, who was exiting. He pushed her, as well as career counselor Neepa Parikh, before fleeing.

Lopez described the suspect as an African American male about six feet tall wearing black clothing and carrying a black and green backpack. Lopez said Public Safety scoured the campus in search of him, and called the Oakland Police Department.

Public Safety is very concerned with the recent string of campus burglaries.

“This type of crime is very disturbing to me and my staff because these suspects are so bold,” Lopez said. “Most of our victims are too busy to notice them or if they do notice them, they figure that they belong here as they feel they blend into our community.”

Blackwell said from what she knows, Public Safety has had interaction with this suspect several times before.

The suspect is someone who “knows the campus fairly well,” she said.

Part of the incident was visible by the Bible As Literature class in the Lucie Stern building, room 26. The professor of the class, Bula Maddison, said she and some of her students saw part of the incident.

“I saw two Public Safety pickups driving West on Kapiolani Road. I also saw a woman standing on the sidewalk,” said Maddison.

Maddison feels her behavior has not changed because of the recent rash of burglaries. She has always been cautious.

“Public Safety does a terrific job. I always close and lock my office door anyway because my laptop is always sitting on my desk,” said Maddison.