A man charged with burglarizing 37 apartments around campus was sentenced this week to six years in prison.
Court documents showed that Kip Klages, 36, was indicted for burglary, tampering with evidence, attempted burglary and possessing criminal tools. He pleaded guilty to 11 of the 40 charges: nine counts of burglary and two counts of attempted burglary.
Klages targeted females and broke into their apartments using a master key. Investigators are not sure how he got the keys or why he did not usually steal any items.
The only stolen items recovered from Klages were a few cameras and a ring, said Brian Lacy, detective in the burglary unit for the Columbus Division of Police. One of the cameras that Klages stole had a photo that he took of himself immediately after the break-in.
Multiple attempts to reach Klages and his lawyer were unanswered.
Lacy’s team from the Strategic Response Bureau began their investigation of Klages after connecting a series of reported break-ins and were able to project where he would “strike again.”
“(Klages) had somewhat of a pattern, so we went ahead and anticipated what he would be possibly doing, and as it turned out, we were correct,” Lacy said.
Undercover police officers were surveilling the area when Klages tried to break into an apartment at 105 E. Norwich Ave. at about 6:15 a.m. Feb. 11, 2011. They observed Klages go down the apartment building stairwell and try to use a key to get in. A resident saw him through her peephole and called the police who were close by.
It was the fourth time that Klages had been to the apartment. Nicole Reyes, a fourth-year in biology, said he entered their apartment every Thursday about the same time. He went undetected the first two times.
Reyes and her roommates rationalized away the first incident. When they awoke, their bedroom doors were open, but they thought a guest had been looking for their bathroom.
The second time Klages entered the house, he woke up one of Reyes’ roommates by flashing a light in her face. This still did not assure them that they had been burglarized and rationed that another guest was using a flashlight to get around in the dark.
Regardless of their uncertainties, Reyes and her roommates changed the locks and put a deadbolt on the door. The next two times that Klages tried to enter their apartment he was unsuccessful.
On the last occasion, one of Reyes’ roommates was up late studying on the living room couch close to the front door. She heard Klages trying to use his key and ran to get her roommate, Camryn Robinson, a fourth-year in speech and hearing sciences, and then called 9-1-1.
“It was definitely a long month-and-a-half,” Robinson said.
Klages denied using a key in the door when being interviewed by police and said he was out jogging.
“He said he jogs a lot up and down High Street,” Lacy said. “I think his excuse for that day was that he was waiting on somebody for some work and that he was down in the stairwell because he was tying his shoe.”
Robinson and Reyes said they had anxiety issues even after he was arrested. They were not able to sleep during the 6 o’clock hour and described their emotions as scared, nervous and mad.
“I mean, this was very serious,” Lacy said. “(Klages was) going into people’s apartments and really scaring them. Whether he meant any harm or not, it changed their lives. I’m just glad we were able to apprehend him before he did anything else.”
Reyes said she thought he was facing more than 100 years in prison and was surprised that he only got six.
“We finally just got an email saying that he’s plead guilty but for only six years, which I feel like that’s not enough time,” Reyes said. “I don’t think because of this incident I’m ever going to get a basement apartment again.”
The Columbus Dispatch reported that the prosecution and defense recommended Klages sentence. Klages was credited with the 458 days he has spent in jail and will be eligible to apply for judicial release after six months.