The last thing that the brothers of UC Irvine’s Kappa Sigma fraternity expected to find upon returning from their annual weekend getaway to Baja, Calif., was their house in shambles. The damage far surpassed the more or less harmless pranks that rival houses sometimes pull off.
On the morning of May 22 between 1:30 and 3:30 a.m., unidentified perpetrators broke into Kappa Sigma’s on-campus house at 1040 Arroyo Vista through a locked window and stole personal as well as chapter-shared items, in addition to vandalizing the property. The entire house had been empty because all residents had opted to go on the fraternity’s trip. The estimated cost of total damages exceeds $10,000. A motive for the crime remains unclear.
Said Kappa Sigma Vice-President Adam Yamaguchi, ‘It was someone who obviously had something out for us.’
Rather than create further tensions in the Greek community by speculating on who is to blame, fraternity president Tom Stepp and Yamaguchi wish to leave the investigation to the UCI Police Department and focus on maintaining chapter morale. However, the suspicion that the crime was carried out by other members of the Greek community pervades.
‘It was shocking,’ Stepp said. ‘It was hard to believe that it actually happened. But everyone’s been in good spirits. There’s no visible damage left because AV [staff] did a great job of cleaning everything up.’
The offenders had ripped apart the felt on the chapter’s pool table, which will cost approximately $2,000 to repair, and kicked down a closet door containing ritual objects, smashing some and stealing others.
They also stole two composite photographs which hung on the walls of the house. Each composite contains a picture of every active member for that particular year. Not only was last year’s most recent composite stolen, but also the ‘Founding Father’ composite, over 20 years old, which contained photographs of the founding members of the Kappa Sigma chapter at UCI.
The burglars also tagged the house walls with illegible graffiti, the exact meanings of which are unclear.
‘AV [staff] couldn’t comment about the content of the tagging, but it was clearly not aimed at any one person,’ Stepp said.
Particularly offended by the crime was third-year studio art major, Chris Cohn. For unknown reasons, his bedroom was the only one which the perpetrators broke into, from which they stole over $2,000 worth of personal belongings including a video camera, a Sony Playstation, a digital camera, an MP3 player and a Rolex watch (a family heirloom).
The perpetratrors reportedly turned on the ovens before they left, a fact which both Stepp and Yamaguchi found rather perplexing since the act rendered no damage to the house.
It was also reported that the burglars kicked in the piping of the sinks in the upstairs bathrooms. The perpetrators reportedly turned on all faucets in the sinks and showers in order to flood the house. Water overflowed down to the first floor, triggering a fire alarm around 5 a.m. after the assailants had exited the premises. Paramedics and a fire truck immediately responded to the alarm and discovered the damage.
Fortunately, insurance covers much of the property damage of the house, but Cohn was not so fortunate.
‘I opened my door and at first everything seemed fine. But I looked again at my desk and in my drawers, and all my stuff was gone,’ Cohn said.
Both Stepp, Yamaguchi and Cohn agree that responding to disputes within the Greek community with this sort of aggression is absolutely deplorable.
‘There are always conflicts and minor issues, but you don’t have to bring the crap into our house,’ Yamaguchi said.
Stepp is disappointed that this crime has happened within the Greek community.
‘As Greeks, we should all stick together and not do things like this,’ Stepp said. ‘But I do want to thank the AV staff as well as the dean of students, the UCIPD and all of the Greeks who have been supportive through all that has happened to us,’ Stepp said.
An outpouring of e-mails, letters and phone calls offering support was extended to the members of Kappa Sigma after the incident occurred, as the Greek community rallied behind the fraternity brothers.
Currently there is a $1,000 cash reward for anyone who can provide information regarding the crime, and students should contact UCIPD Detective Richard Worcester at (949) 824-1161 if they have any helpful tips. Worcester declined to comment as the case is still under investigation.
If the perpetrator or perpetrators are caught and are UCI students, they will face felony charges and expulsion from the university.
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