First Crime Alert of 2015: Brower Commons Dining Hall Burglarized

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The enormous Brower Commons Dining Hall on College Avenue was burglarized over the New Year's holiday, according to Rutgers police.

The break-in occurred between noon on December 31, and 9:30 am on January 2, suggesting that few or no Rutgers staff were watching the building during the holiday.

It is unclear what was stolen, if anything, and there is no description of the suspects.

Police have, therefore, requested that people with information, or people who were in the vicinity during that period, to call the Rutgers Police Department Detective Bureau at (848) 932-8025.

The burglars had entered the Commons through an exterior "point of entry".

It is unclear whether the Rutgers police meant a door, of which the Commons has at least four, a ground-floor window, or an elevated window.

Out of concern for others who may suffer burglary, the Rutgers cops have offered the following tips:

  • Secure points of entry to buildings and all work spaces when not in use; 
  • Remain alert and aware of people and circumstances around you; 
  • Do not prop open exterior doors; 
  • Immediately report suspicious activity to local law enforcement.

The crime alert is the first issued by the RUPD in 2015, but more serious crimes that occurred further from campus did not generate such notifications.

As we reported, a man was seriously injured in a stabbing during the same time period on Suydam Street, roughly 1,000 feet from the campus of the Rutgers Nursing School.

However, because the crime occurred in the city's Fourth Ward and did not involve a Rutgers-affiliated victim, the public and university community was not notified of the incident.

The Commons is a frequent site of student demonstrations and performances, and is no stranger to incidents.

Built in the early 1960's to replace the then-overcrowded Records Hall dining hall, the Brower Commons got its name in 1974.

Originally University Commons, the building was renamed after Charles Brower, a Rutgers alumnus and advertising exec who served as a member of the Board of Governors for many years. 

A fire devastated the President's Dining Room on October 27, 2004, causing the dining hall to be closed for a few days and relocated across the street to the College Avenue Gym.

The Commons was in the news, more recently, when trays failed to be eliminated from the dining hall.  The other three New Brunswick/Piscataway dining halls got rid of their trays to cut down on waste last semester.

Joseph Charette, executive director of Rutgers Dining Services, said that the Commons would need to be redesigned in order to eliminate trays.