SAN MARCOS, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - San Marcos police have arrested a man they said entered women’s dorms and apartments while they were sleeping and stole their belongings.
Several women at the San Jacinto Hall dormitory at Texas State University woke up to find a strange man inside of their rooms just after 3 a.m. Friday. “They woke up very quickly, they called UPD, we responded very quickly and apprehended that person as they were leaving the hall,” said University Police Chief Laurie Clouse.
“To know someone easily just walked into the dorm and walked into our space, it’s scary, I don’t really feel safe,” said Cydney Tindal, who was not home at the time.
Tindal said when she returned to her dorm, she realized her suitemate’s belongings were not how she left them. “A bunch of her clothes were taken out, stuff was all thrown around, everything was looked through,” Tindal said.
University police said the man they arrested is 29-year old Jose Ernesto Chavez.
All the students’ stolen belongings were recovered and returned, but police still aren’t sure how Chavez got inside the building. “Our residence halls all have controlled points of access. Students are issued a student ID card and they use that to get in to their residence halls,” said Dr. Rosanne Proite, director of housing at Texas State.
However, officers said the three dorm rooms Chavez entered were left unlocked.
“This is a great reminder of how important it is to lock your doors. Communicate with your roommates, so that you can develop a system where the door is always locked, regardless if you’re inside the home or if you’re away,” San Marcos Police Chief Chase Stapp said.
Once Chavez was taken into custody, university police realized he fit the description of a suspect San Marcos police were already searching for. “We immediately sent a detective over there to interview him and he did confess to two of those crimes from Sunday,” said Stapp.
The crimes Chief Stapp was referring to happened at The Edge and Dakota Ranch apartments.
At each complex, women reported a man had broken in while they were sleeping.
The victim at Dakota Ranch also told police the man climbed in bed with her and grabbed her chest, only running away once the victim screamed for help. “It does seem pretty brazen. It seems as though he didn’t really care if people were home or not, which is of particular concern, but it’s also what led to him being captured,” Stapp said.
Knowing Chavez is in custody has helped ease students’ minds back at the dorm, but the lessons learned from the experience won’t be forgotten anytime soon. “We definitely need to make sure we keep our doors locked, because this stuff is happening and I think people don’t think it’s going to happen to them until, unfortunately, it does,” said Tindal.
Chavez was booked into the Hays County Jail on burglary charges. His bond is set at $150,000. Meanwhile, university housing is sending out safety tips and conducting an assessment to see if any additional steps need to be taken to protect students.