Crime and suspicious activity within apartment complexes near campus affects unsuspecting tenants, such as Jackson Bogach, the victim of a recent break-in involving a $1,400 laptop.
Bogach resides at The Verge apartment complex, located approximately 1 mile from campus.
“I got home from work and I went into my room and when I looked over at my desk my laptop and charger were missing,” Bogach said. “I only had the laptop for two weeks. It sucks. I’ve had bottles of liquor and wine taken from me previously, but since the apartment manager was on vacation, nothing could be done.”
Bogach does not stand alone. Public reports detail six counts of larceny, three counts of breaking and entering and one count of armed robbery taking place at The Verge between Aug. 15, 2015 and July 15, 2016.
“It was a forced entry, my door was locked when I left,” Bogach said. “The inside doors are easily opened with a credit card or through force. I don’t think it’s cool for a student apartment complex to have its rooms so easily broken into.”
Records obtained from the Asheville Police Department show that another apartment complex popular with students, Hawthorne Northside, called in the highest number of police service requests of any apartment complex located near campus within the aforementioned timeframe.
Hawthorne Northside’s list of police calls include multiple larceny reports, a gun discharge, four counts of fraud and four instances of domestic disturbance. Despite this, the area feels safe, according to Kevin Thomas, a resident and sophomore student.
“On paper, the police calls look bad, but I’ve never felt unsafe in this neighborhood or seen any serious crime,” Thomas said. “The police records might be giving me a different opinion, though. I guess since I haven’t seen any of the crime myself, I haven’t thought about what really goes on.”
According to Thomas, despite the area feeling safe, non-threatening criminal activity still concerns residents. The police received calls for drugs and suspicious individuals, but only in isolated instances.
“Sometimes I’ll see people out at 3 a.m. and I’m just like ‘What are you doing here?’” Thomas said. “I don’t necessarily consider those people suspicious, but I consider what they’re doing to be sketchy, such as blunt smoking by the fire pit on a Sunday night.”
Though the number of calls to police at Hawthorne Northside outweighs complexes like The Verge, the crimes reported often appear less severe, Thomas said.
“I’m seeing a lot of smaller stuff on Hawthorne’s list of calls,” he said. “Some of the calls on the list don’t seem like serious criminal activity, but there is some concerning stuff going on.”
The third largest student apartment complex within a mile of campus, University Place, received the fewest calls for police service in comparison to the other two complexes. The complex received only 19 calls during the 11 month period and 13 of the calls pertained to noise complaints.
University Place’s record for noise disturbances stems from its tendency for tenants to party and socialize, Property Manager Donna Shuford said.
“I can relate to these records about the loud music and noise,” Shuford said. “The difference between us and the other guys is we’re almost 100 percent students and alumni and they aren’t.”
In an effort to cut down on the complaints, property management at University Place developed a simple plan, Shuford said.
“The landscape of our property amplifies noise, so it travels to nearby houses,” she said. “We are going to plant rows of Leyland cypress trees to absorb the noise, hopefully it will work.”
The amount of noise complaints appears high, but managing the problem seems easier than what other apartment complexes face, Shuford said.
“This is college living and I know that,” she said. “We know there are parties and it’s not an issue so long as there’s no property damage, disturbed tenants, bothered neighbors or police called. When there is actually an issue, then we take action. We’ve had to fine tenants before, but I’m just glad that noise is our issue and not something worse.”