Trespassing at Easton Avenue apartments raises safety concerns
On Sunday, a man unlawfully entered an unlocked apartment in the University Center at Easton Avenue Apartments, according to a statement from the University.
The apartment's resident asked the intruder, who was later identified by the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) as 46-year-old Dashan McGhee, to exit the space. The suspect eventually fled.
After searching the building, police found and detained McGhee at New Brunswick Station between Easton Avenue and George Street. Since then, the individual has been charged with criminal trespass and was sent to the Middlesex County Jail in North Brunswick.
This break-in is part of a long history of safety issues at the University Center at Easton Avenue Apartments. In 2016, a man was arrested for trespassing in the University Center at Easton Avenue's attached parking garage. In 2021, another incident occurred when a man followed students into the building and gained access. Late last year, a sexual assault occurred in the laundry room at the building.
Daniel Popov, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said he encountered a break-in last semester while living at the University Center at Easton Avenue Apartments.
During the incident, he said he was alone in his apartment, sitting at his kitchen table, which faced the unit's doorway. He then saw an unknown individual open the door.
"I look around, and it is some random guy. And I was really confused. I was like, 'Can I help you?' And he was not being coherent, and it was clear that he was homeless," Popov said.
He said he was confused as to how this individual was able to enter the building, as a key card is required to enter and operate the elevators. Popov filed a police report with the RUPD and spoke with a detective who, after a few months, informed him an arrest had been made in the case.
Kenneth Cop, chief of the RUPD, announced at a recent town hall that a security guard would be stationed at the building overnight. Currently, only the Sojourner Truth Apartments on the College Avenue campus have a security guard stationed at the building entrance at all times.
Popov said the University Center at Easton Avenue Apartments' security guard is only at the building Wednesday through Sunday between midnight and 8 a.m.
"I think the security guards (addition is) definitely a step in the right direction. I just think the dates do not make sense," he said. "At (The Yard @ College Avenue), for example, there's always gonna be a security officer out front. Why is Easton sub-tier? Why does it get random hours versus the (guests at the Sojourner Truth Apartments) have to sign in and sign out all the time."
In an exclusive interview with the Targum earlier this year, Cop said student feedback and survey results make it clear that students do not want RUPD to patrol residence halls. He said it is primarily the responsibility of residents to report suspicious activity and not let people into residential buildings.
The University declined to answer what or if any steps are being taken to prevent safety incidents at residence halls and why a University-wide crime alert was not issued for the break-in that occurred on Sunday.