Mike Adams

Georgia Tech student Justin Myers recently had a very bad evening. He was expecting guests in his dorm room when four armed intruders greeted him at the door. They were able to steal merchandise and knock out two of the 19-year old student’s teeth for two principal reasons: 1) Armed robbers are always armed, and 2) Georgia Tech students are never allowed to have firearms on campus.

In the dorm complex where the robbery occurred, residents must swipe an access card to get through a set of outside doors. They also have a key for their six-bedroom suites. Finally, students are provided with a separate key for their bedrooms. But that isn’t enough to prevent such incidents from happening.

Only three of the four criminals wore masks but all four demonstrated how easily they could get inside the outside set of doors. Georgia Tech does not employ security guards in its dorms, which makes things easier for the potential intruder. Another weakness in dorm security is the automatic doors that delay in shutting to accommodate disabled students. Added to this is the human error associated with not watching the automatic door as other people follow students inside or trying to help out a person claiming to be a student who “forgot” his access card.

Georgia Tech crime statistics suggest that crime is down on campus in 2010. They showed two robberies in 2010 compared to four in 2009; 14 stolen cars this year compared to 38 in 2009; 49 thefts from vehicles in 2010 compared to 204 in 2009. Nonetheless, there are two serious problems to be gleaned from the statistics. First, such statistics rely on victim reporting and are, therefore, always underestimates of the true extent of crime. Second, the statistics showed that burglary is not declining at Tech. There were a whopping 58 campus burglaries for both 2009 and 2010.

Not all of the 58 burglaries were as traumatic as the one endured by Justin Myers. When he opened his bedroom door, the four men rushed him, pistol-whipped him and threw him to the floor kicking him repeatedly in the head. He was concerned for a time that they might shoot him. As they were demanding more money (and he was insisting he only had a few dollars in cash) things nearly spiraled out of control.

In the final analysis, only a 22-inch Panasonic television, a laptop computer, a cell phone, and $6 in cash were seized. Things could have been worse. The crazed intruders could have killed the unarmed student.


Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.