String of Winona State break-ins continues


Nicole Girgen

One of the offices in Minne Hall are included in the recent break-ins in the Winona State area. More recent break-ins include Maxwell and Gildemeister Halls, as well as multiple off-campus locations.

Erin Jones, Copy Editor

Winona State University and the Winona Police Department continue their cooperation with each other as break-ins continue on- and off-campus.

On-campus break-ins began this past summer, with reports beginning on Aug. 24, and up until recently, Winona State security had been handling these cases.

The most recent office burglaries occurred in Maxwell and Gildemeister Halls and according to director of security Chris Cichosz, these cases have been referred to the police department.

Cichosz said, as of now, Winona State security and the police department are working closely to determine the perpetrator of these crimes.

“We cooperate with the police and work with them as much as we can,” Cichosz said. “We don’t have a clue, we have no idea [who committed any of the campus burglaries],”

When asked if Winona police may have more information on these burglaries, Cichosz said he is doubtful.

“I’m willing to bet no, but you’d have to check with them,” Cichosz said.

Deputy chief Tom Williams of the Winona Police Department was contacted for an interview, but never responded to the voicemail left by the reporter.

Cichosz and the rest of Winona State security have also been cooperating with police on the burglaries that have been happening off-campus as well.

“We’re doing what we can, like offering assistance,” Cichosz said. “If [the Winona police] get leads on a time that there was activity on campus, we’ll maybe try and offer video if we have cameras in the areas.”

Several Winona State students have also cooperated in these investigations, unfortunately, as victims of these off-campus burglaries.

Gabie Doud, a junior public relations major, recalled the incident that happened in her home during the early morning hours of Sept. 7.

She explained how she had gotten up to go to the bathroom at 3 a.m., went back to her room and checked her phone until 3:08 a.m. When she put her phone back down, she heard jingling, but assumed it was her cats playing with her keys.

“I waited a little bit to see if they would stop and they didn’t,” Doud said. “I sat up to get my keys from my cats and there was two men in my room,”

Doud said she yelled at the two men, and they ran out of her room.

“They ran through the back and there was the two people in my room and then I think there were others because they took our living room TV,” Doud said. “Since I was just up, I didn’t think they were in the house already,”

Doud also said that one of her roommates called police by 3:19 a.m., but by the time they got there, the perpetrators were gone.

“[The perpetrators] took my keys, my Beats and my phone. They took the living room TV,” Doud said.

Though Doud said she always locks the door, she assumes it was unlocked because nothing was broken and there was no sign of forced entry.

And despite the frightening experience, Doud and her roommates are okay.

“I wasn’t scared, I was just weirded out,” Doud said. “For a while my room just felt like really weird to be in, just because there was two people in there and it was uncomfortable.”

Mackenzie Bergeron, a senior criminal justice law enforcement major, also talked about the incident that took place at her apartment on Sept. 9.

Bergeron’s apartment, which looks like a house from the outside, was also broken into during the early hours of the morning as well.

“We narrowed it down,” Bergeron said. “It probably took place between the hours of 2 a.m. and 2:30 a.m.,”

Bergeron said that prior to 1:30 a.m., both the front and back doors were locked.

“My roommate, Emma, got home around 1:30 a.m.,” Bergeron said. “We’re not blaming anyone, but maybe the back door was left accidentally open or maybe they did break in and picked the lock,”

Bergeron said that Emma fell asleep around 2 a.m. and that she got home at 2:33 a.m. Before going to bed, Bergeron noticed a pile of garbage on her bed. She thought nothing of it and threw it away.

Later, though, Bergeron realized that pile of trash was dumped on her bed by the perpetrators as they searched through her belongings, right before she got home.

“At 8 a.m., my roommate, Paige, knocked on my door and asked if I had seen Heather’s backpack or laptop because she was staying there,” Bergeron said. “She graduated in May and was staying on the couch for the weekend.”

Bergeron also said that Paige and Emma were both missing their laptops as well. When Bergeron checked her own backpack, her laptop was also gone.

“Emma said at first they took her whole entire backpack, but then she came out into the living room and her backpack was out here because they went through it out here since she was sleeping in her room,” Bergeron said. “So, they went through my roommate’s room while she was sleeping there.”

There was little evidence for police to go on, however, the perpetrators did leave an almost-empty bottle of Hennessy behind, which was collected for fingerprints and DNA. Bergeron said the police have told her nothing about the Hennessy bottle since she gave it to them.

According to Bergeron though, one of the perpetrators was caught shortly after breaking into someone else’s home that same morning.

The man was caught just down the road from where Bergeron and her roommates live.

“[It happened] at a football player’s house, not too far from ours,” Bergeron said. “They’re the ones who caught them in the act. They got one of them, pinned him down until the cops arrived and he had a backpack filled with Xbox games and other belongings,”

Doud, whose home was broken into just days before Bergeron’s, had also heard about the incident at the football player’s house.

“The football player tackled the guy and beat the crap out of him, so [the police] think it was the same people,” Doud said. “So, one got away, but the other was taken into custody and taken to the hospital,”

As of now, Bergeron said that police informed her of two people in custody for committing the burglaries against her, her roommates and the football players down the road from them.

“It’s not set in stone that these guys are the ones who robbed our house, but most likely I would assume it was them,” Bergeron said. 

As for the burglary at Doud’s home, Doud is hoping that the individuals in custody now are the same ones who broke into her home.

“I’m hoping it’s all connected,” Doud said. “I feel like that would be better than a bunch of different [burglaries],”

Though no one was harmed, it is still unsettling for both women and their roommates to think about what happened.

“I kept thinking, like, ‘What if I had come home just a few minutes earlier?’,” Bergeron said. “I would’ve run right into these guys. But I feel most bad for Emma because she was in her room when they went in. When we woke up, we thought they came in when we were sleeping, and I started freaking out because they took our laptops and chargers and mine is right next to my bed. They would have hit my bed for sure and it would’ve just been so scary.”

Doud said she isn’t as afraid as she is uncomfortable with the situation.

“I wouldn’t say I’m afraid of them or scared to go to sleep or anything,” Doud said. “I mean I wake up a lot more, but I think it’s just like an uncomfortable, eerie feeling knowing they could’ve done other things, but they didn’t, and that’s the worst part.”

Bergeron and Doud also agreed that the burglaries reminded them to be extra cautious, even when you are stuck in the mindset that nothing like that could ever happen to you.

“It doesn’t even seem like it’s a real thing, it’s just crazy,” Doud said. “But [it was] a learning experience for sure, like to lock your door every night.”

Doud added the importance of talking about incidents like hers and Bergeron’s, as well as others who have been through a similar incident.

“The more people who know about it,” Doud said. “The less people are going to have it happen to them.”

Nicole Girgen
Gildemeister Hall (pictured above), along with Maxwell Hall, are the two most recent campus buildings to have offices broken into. The exact office that was broken into has not been announced yet, as it is still under investigation.
Nicole Girgen
One of the more recent break-ins to happen on Winona State campus include one of the offices in Gildemeister Hall. The exact office that was broken into has not been announced yet, as it is still under investigation.