A 19-year-old was arrested earlier this month on multiple charges after an investigation of a series of alleged thefts on the SUNY New Paltz campus.
According to University Police Chief Ray Bryant, Julius Judd faces a number of charges including burglary, petit larceny, grand larceny, trespassing and criminal impersonation.
Bryant said Judd had allegedly committed thefts of students’ unattended knapsacks and laptops in both Hasbrouck Dining Hall and the Sojourner Truth Library (STL).
“There were quite a few altogether that we believe he was responsible for,” said Bryant. “Just before we made the arrest, I put an advisory out to all students, advising them that we’d had thefts in the dining hall [and] to protect their property.”
Mary Ritayik, investigator for the university police force, said Judd had been arrested on charges of four cases of theft. There are also nine additional larceny cases that are still open and “may or may not” have been committed by Judd, she said.
According to Ritayik, there were 10 incidents of theft in Hasbrouck Dining Hall between Sept. 24 and Oct. 24.
“And in the library, there were three in that time period,” said Ritayik.“But it was like the same days, we’d get three larcenies all within two hours at dinner time in the dining hall. So we were like, ‘somebody just went in here and ransacked cubby holes.’”
After noticing a “spike” in thefts, Ritayik said, the department took up the investigation. Through a combination of student tip-offs and video footage of Judd making a purchase with a credit card stolen from the bag of one of the students, Judd was identified, charged and arrested.
Ritayik, who had been following the investigation, was the one to contact Judd about his impending arrest.
“I spoke to him on the phone,” Ritayik said. “We got a warrant for him when we found out it was him. And he was out of state, so we had to call him and let him know that ‘you have a warrant here and you need to turn yourself in.’”
Ritayik said Judd turned himself in and was taken to jail. She said he was later bailed out, but now awaits a court trial.
“I don’t know where it sits right now,” said Ritayik. “He has been charged, but it hasn’t gone to court yet. I don’t even know if he pled guilty or if he pled not guilty or if there’s a plea on the table . . . It takes a couple of weeks.”
Judd was contacted, but was not available for comment.
A number of media outlets have reported Judd’s address to be 215 Main St. in New Paltz. But according to Bryant, Judd “didn’t really have a place” at the time of arrest and had been evicted from the Main Street address. Bryant also said Judd was a former student at SUNY New Paltz.
While Bryant said Hasbrouck Dining Hall has installed cameras by the cubby area as a result of the thefts, the library also continues to take precautions. According to Donna Provenzano, a night and weekend supervisor at STL, the library monitors “all over” the library.
“We also have put down signs to be very aware and not to put anything down that is of value or anything and leave unattended,” Provenzano said. “Like I tell students all the time, if I see them with laptops, I just say, ‘be very aware of your surroundings and don’t leave anything behind.’”
For some students, the recent thefts have been a wake-up call to careless or worry-free behavior.
Student Association Vice President of Academic Affairs and Governance Caitlin Ryan said she rarely worries about being a victim of theft. Ryan, who is from Queens, feels very safe in New Paltz.
“I’ll go to the library and just leave all my [stuff] out on the table and leave . . . and go to the bathroom and come back,” Ryan said. “But if I have my laptop, I usually pack up my laptop and bring it with me. But anything else, I’ll leave out, which is probably not the best thing.”
For others, the thefts are an alarming reminder that outsiders can come on campus and appear as a student while taking advantage of those who live there.
Bryant explained that the balance between freedom and security is difficult to maintain throughout all facets of society.
“As a police chief, as an individual responsible for the safety and security of students, faculty, staff and visitors in the geographical area of this campus, I would love to see razor wire, armed guards, minefields, cameras everywhere,” said Bryant. “As a citizen, I do not want to live that way.”
But some, like Ryan, refuse to let the incidents affect the way they view the campus and the community.
“It’s a reality, things like that will happen. But what I love about New Paltz is that I don’t think the majority of people here are like that or the majority of community members are like that,” said Ryan. “And so, it’s something I’m cautious of, but I don’t let it dictate my life because I do like the fact that it feels like a safe place here and it feels like we’re a community.”