Thunderbird residents express worries over privacy after Monday break-in

A break-in occurred on Monday morning in Thunderbird Residence, causing students to express concern about resident safety in student housing.

According to Associate VP Student Housing & Community Services (SHCS) Andrew Parr, staff discovered the break-in when they arrived at the front desk Monday morning — the Thunderbird is the only residence front desk that does not operate 24/7. By mid-morning, residents received an email informing them of the break-in and that the RCMP were assessing the situation.

In an interview with The Ubyssey, Parr said the RCMP arrested the suspect midday Monday.

A Tuesday email to residents from SHCS said that resident contract cards — which include the full names, primary addresses, emergency contact information and personal medical information of student residents — were stolen. Parr also said key cards were also stolen, but some items have been recovered.

Parr said, after discussions with privacy professionals at UBC, SHCS believes the risk of students’ personal information being misused is low as only physical records were taken, and no banking or credit card details have been compromised.

To ensure student safety after the incident, Parr said SHCS is collaborating with the RCMP in its investigation and is changing unit front door locks in the residence. Mail delivery was also temporarily paused, but according to a Wednesday email sent to residents, it has since resumed.

Linnet, a graduate student, said there has not been adequate communication from SHCS about the break-in.

“I really felt like we were being kept in the dark,” Linnet said.

Students echoed Linnet's concerns in multiple Reddit posts posted.

Parr said SHCS communicated with all residents as information became available, and has been in contact with students who reached out with individual requests.

Linnet also questioned the safety of key and contract card storage. The Thunderbird front desk has been in a temporary location as the permanent desk has been under renovation since last summer.

Due to the break-in, the temporary front desk is closed and SHCS has told students they can go to the Marine Drive Residence front desk, according to an email sent this morning.

Parr said at this time he does not believe the storage system played a role in the break-in, but that an RCMP investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Parr said students can reach out to SHCS if they need further support, and that SCHS is working to mitigate the risk of similar incidents occurring in future.

SHCS is also asking students to report suspicious activity to Campus Security at 604.822.2222.

“We want to ensure that we're providing as much care and support as we can to the individual students based on their individual needs,” Parr said.

This article was edited at 12:20 on January 13 to remove the last name of a major source in this article due to a reporter error, following our anonymity policy. The Ubyssey regrets this error.