UW student wakes up to find homeless man in apartment - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UW student wakes up to find homeless man in apartment


By Dan Cassuto - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook | Blog  |  (608) 661-2727

MADISON (WKOW) -- A downtown Madison resident and UW student says she woke up at 3 a.m. on Tuesday to find a homeless man cooking food and in the process of robbing her apartment.

"He sliced open the window screen, and opened up the window, and literally climbed right through," said Abby Merrell, a UW senior who lives in a ground-floor apartment on Langdon St.

Madison police say it's common to see an increase in robberies during the first several weeks of the school year.

Police spokesman Joel DeSpain said homeless people sometimes break into apartments to steal food and other items.

"He was going through all the stuff in our kitchen," said Merrell, who says the intruder seemed to be in the process of cooking food.  "I yelled at him, 'get out, get out," she told 27 News.

Merrell says the man stole electronics as well as food, alcohol and winter clothing, but oddly left televisions and other valuable electronics behind.

27 News found many ground-floor windows near Merrell's apartment open and unsecured, apparently even with nobody home.

Madison Fire spokesman Lori Wirth told 27 News that landlords are discouraged from installing metal bars because of fire safety reasons.

Students often complain about old and poorly-functioning window locks that don't properly lock and stay shut.

"I'm kind of freaked out," said UW student Daniel Cox, who lives in a downtown Langdon St. apartment two doors down from Merrell. 

Cox's ground-floor window was mostly closed, but easy to open and not locked. 

"These are really old windows," said Cox, who seemed startled to find how easy it would be to break into his apartment.

He discovered the security risk when 27 News confronted him about his window that seemed slightly ajar when our crew was walking around outside.

Abby Merrell tells us she wants to move.

We contacted her landlord, but the company did not respond to us.

Madison Police say they identified a suspect -- a homeless man in his 50s -- but did not arrest him after confronting him.


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