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The Blue & Gray Press | July 22, 2017

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Off-Campus Peeping Tom Raises Safety Concerns

On March 11, Fredericksburg police responded to a call from the 1000 block of Princess Ann Street, where three off campus students claimed an unidentified man had attempted to forcibly enter their apartment.

According to the students, the man had approached one of them earlier that day, and had followed her to the front door, where he tried to gain entry.

The students said that the man returned that night, around 1:30 a.m., and had peered at them through the window before trying to pry it open. It was at this point that the students decided to call the police.

Upon arrival, the police found the suspect in the alley behind the building, hiding beneath a tarp. They determined that the man had gained access to the building via the roof.

He was promptly taken into custody and later identified as Kenneth Singleton, a local man with no known address. He was charged with attempted burglary, peeping tom, and public intoxication.

While he was initially turned over to the Rappahannock Regional Jail with no bond, a call to the jail resulted in no new information regarding Singleton’s case.

This case, while startling, is not remarkable. Similar events have plagued other off-campus students in recent years. In fact, many off-campus students are less surprised by the event, and more surprised that they were not notified.

Kelly Reeder, a sophomore who lives off campus, was one such student.

“I didn’t know about this incident,” Reeder said. “And with a good amount of students living in off-campus housing, someone needs to send out e-mails or some kind of notifications, even if it is via Facebook.”

Although, Reeder went on to say that her situation was probably different than other students living off campus.

“I think that I’m in a different situation,” she said. “When I used to leave work later at night, I always checked and never saw anyone. Being downtown where I live, there isn’t anything that is really open that would draw in a large amount of people.”

Surprisingly, some off-campus students are taking the event in stride, preferring a pragmatic approach to the issue.

“I didn’t even know that happened,” said junior Amanda Pullen, another student with an off campus apartment. “But I think we’ve done about all we can safety wise, so I don’t worry much about the rest.”

And while Pullen said that she would have appreciated some sort of notification, she harbors no ill will.

“I know we aren’t in the safest area,” Pullen said. “I guess it would be good to know these things, but I’m not sure the school could really do much about them, other than reminding us to look out.”

Jackie Horn, a senior who lives off campus, echoed Pullen’s sentiment.

“I heard about the incident, actually, but t didn’t scare me,” Horn said. “I take precautions, but don’t let fear rule my life or influence my decisions.”

Horn has had her fair share of Fredericksburg’s criminal element. Last year her house was robbed and her laptop was stolen.

Still, Horn views a notification system as a problematic solution.
“If he’s a threat to other people, I’d say it’s important to notify the community,” she said. “But it’s a fine line between warning people and instilling fear.”

Natatia Bledsoe, PIO/Media Relations Manager for the Fredericksburg Police Department, had her own take on the issue of off-campus safety.

“Any time a student chooses to live off campus, that student becomes a member of the community,” Bledsoe said. “You take the good with the bad.”

Bledsoe conceded that while the crime rates in the city of Fredericksburg were obviously higher that those on campus, students choosing to live off campus had a responsibility or their own safety.

“We recommend to students the same things we recommend to anyone moving to Fredericksburg,” she said. “Do some research into the neighborhood you’re moving into and look at the crime statistics.”

Bledsoe also mentioned the services offered by the Fredericksburg Police Department, including free defense classes geared towards women. She also mentioned the department’s plethora of readily available crime information.

“Contact the police department,” She said. “Crime statistics are updated regularly, and you can call the department to get the stats directly.”

As for off-campus students, it appears that little can be done to sway their practicality.

“I’ve heard stories like this before,” Horn said. “And I’d call the police just like they did.”

Commuting Sudent Association President Anum Shaikh was unable to comment.

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