UPDATE: Man charged, UK students found thefts when returned this week
Key card recordsm video pointed to suspect; as many as 860 rooms hit
LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Public Relations) — University of Kentucky officials recently became aware of a pattern of thefts occurring in a group of UK residence halls during winter break while the campus was closed.
In an email sent to campus Wednesday, UK officials communicated that an employee — identified by UK staff as 28-year-old Lexington resident Kristian Lowe — accessed approximately 860 residence hall suites without permission and allegedly stole items left behind by residents during the break. The employee, who now has been terminated from UK housing, has been criminally charged with burglary, trespassing and possession of a deadly weapon (brass knuckles) and was arraigned in Fayette County Court on Tuesday.
UK Police’s investigation is still ongoing.
According to court records, police first were notified by a student on Jan. 3 when she returned from the Citrus Bowl in Florida and discovered her room had been entered and items taken.
When police checked work records, key card records and surveillance video, they were led to Lowe as a suspect, according to the arrest citation. When officers confronted Lowe Monday afternoon, he admitted to entering the rooms and the thefts, according to the citations.
Some cash was found on him and he said it came from rooms that day, police said in the citations.
The university responded immediately, communicating directly with all students impacted. UK teams also are working to ensure appropriate remuneration as quickly as possible for any items stolen. UK police believe that will mostly involve small amounts of money that may have been stored in suites over the break.
Investments in 21st-century technology, to the tune of millions of dollars, in the state-of-the-art residence halls allowed the institution to quickly respond to the incident as UK Housing officials detected that the now-former employee accessed suites using card swipe technology under the guise of doing routine maintenance work. UK Police Chief Joe Monroe noted that the top priorities in the university’s response are supporting the impacted students and ensuring a similar incident does not happen again.
“First and foremost, we are here to support our students, their safety and their security,” said Monroe. “The technology now in place in new, high-tech residence halls allowed us to detect unwarranted activity much more quickly than we would have been able to do in older halls that depended upon locks and keys for entry and access.”
The impacted residence halls were confined to the north side of campus — Blazer Hall, Boyd Hall, Holmes Hall and Jewell Hall.
Moving forward, the university will investigate processes and policies and make improvements where necessary.
Call center hours:
Today, Wed. Jan. 5: 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 6 and Friday, Jan. 7: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 8 and Sunday, Jan. 9: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.