UMass students victims of thefts

NASHUA – Just days after settling into their rooms at the Radisson Hotel Nashua, several University of Massachusetts Lowell students awoke Sunday morning to discover several thousand dollars worth of electronic equipment and personal possessions had apparently been stolen overnight, a parent of one of the students said Sunday.

Kevin Rogers, the father of freshman D. J. Seco, told The Telegraph that his son was among at least four students, all freshmen, who had items like laptops, TVs, an X-Box, debit cards and cash from wallets, and sets of keys taken sometime between late Saturday night and early Sunday morning.

“They’re still going through their stuff to see what else may have been taken,” Rogers said from his home in Royalston, Mass. “It was just a week ago (today) that they moved in, and it’s been a great experience for them, until now.”

The thefts were evidently carried out in particularly brazen fashion, Rogers said – it appears the suspects entered the rooms, rounded up the items, and departed while the victims were sleeping just feet away.

“One of the students in the room next to my son’s said he woke up and caught a glimpse of someone leaving, but couldn’t see well enough to identify anyone,” Rogers said.

“They were pretty gutsy, that’s for sure – they took a lot of stuff.”

Nashua police Sgt. Eric Nordengren, who answered the phone at police headquarters Sunday evening, would only say that police are investigating and that they don’t yet have any information to release.

A clerk at the Radisson said she couldn’t discuss the incident and referred all questions to general manager Steve Lambert, whom she said wasn’t available Sunday.

Roughly 240 UMass Lowell undergraduate students, about a third of them freshmen, are being housed at the Radisson for at least the first semester this school year. University officials contracted with the large Spit Brook Road hotel, formerly known as the Sheraton Tara and Sheraton Nashua, because of a severe housing shortage created when the number of incoming freshmen and transfers were significantly higher than normal.

The students moved in on Labor Day. At the time, the most common concern among students and parents was dealing with the nearly 10-mile commute to the school’s campus, especially on nights and weekends.

Rogers said his son was told that investigators are looking at the possibility that the thefts may have been carried out by individuals using stolen, or copied, electronic pass keys to access the rooms. Another scenario involves the suspects gaining access through windows, as the rooms involved look out over the roof of a lower part of the hotel, he said.

While his son’s car keys were among the missing items, Rogers said, they were relieved that his car was still in its parking place Sunday.

But now comes the question of where to go from here, he said.

“I have no idea about insurance at this point, I guess we’ll be spending this week finding all this stuff out,” Rogers said. “And I want to do everything we can to make sure these kids are secure while they’re staying there.”