Three students at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, Calif., have been arrested on suspicion of burglarizing at least two dozen unoccupied residence hall rooms last week while the campus was closed during area wildfires.
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that Daryl Livington Reems, Jose Ricardo Rubio and Lamont Bryan Paxton, all 18, are suspected of targeting student housing.
Twenty of the burglaries took place in student housing within Sauvignon Village, according to the university’s crime log. The remaining four incidents occurred in three freshmen residence halls, including Cabernet Village, Zinfandel Village and Verdot Village.
The campus of 9,200 students was vacated Oct. 26 because of the Kincade fire, large-scale evacuations and widespread power shutoffs. Students began reporting the burglaries Saturday, when they returned to their residential halls.
Police arrested the three men on Oct. 29 when they were stopped while driving away from campus. Because the campus was closed, no one was allowed near the residence halls without police permission. Inside the car, the officer found what he believed to be stolen property.
As students returned to their rooms later that week, campus police received an influx of burglary reports that officers suspect Reems, Rubio and Paxton are responsible for. At least 24 burglaries were reported to campus police from Saturday to Tuesday, according to the university.
“We weren’t aware of where the burglaries occurred until some of the students got back to campus,” university spokesman Paul Gullixson says. “We didn’t know the extent ... of the burglaries that occurred until that point.”
“This was a very disappointing and frustrating situation, given that it occurred in the midst of a regional crisis while our campus was closed and most vulnerable,” Gullixson said.
Reems, Rubio and Paxton face charges of burglary and possession of stolen property, Gullixson says. All three have been suspended from the university indefinitely.
Campus police have been able to recover at least some of the stolen items.