Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Residents demand action after trespassing at Lark in the Woods

Residents demand action after trespassing at Lark in the Woods
CW / Natalie Teat

Residents have expressed safety concerns after a man trespassed at Lark in the Woods on Sunday, entering several apartments and asking a resident for sex.

Stephanie Taylor, the public relations representative for the Tuscaloosa Police Department, wrote in an email that multiple 911 calls started coming into the department from residents at 1:25 p.m. The department responded and arrested the suspect at the complex around 1:50 p.m. 

Taylor wrote that a woman called while police were on the way to say that she was awakened by an unknown man in her bed. According to the caller, the man said he was looking for someone and then left the apartment.

“Officers located the suspect in the parking lot,” Taylor wrote. “He was intoxicated, and told police he was looking for his friend.”

Footage from a Ring doorbell camera shows the man attempting to enter apartments at 12:27 p.m. 

According to emails from Lark, the man was an invited guest of one of the residents.

Taylor wrote that the suspect was arrested for second-degree burglary and taken to the Tuscaloosa County Jail. His bond has been set at $5,000. 

Police were able to identify and arrest the man quickly thanks to the footage residents provided, Taylor wrote. 

Taylor also wrote that the residents’ communication “through the GroupMe app proved to be a valuable safety resource in this situation.” During the incident, complex residents issued updates to one another about the whereabouts of the man.

Another Lark in the Woods resident, who wishes to remain anonymous due to their experience with the man who trespassed, said they also woke up to find the man in their bedroom. 

The resident said the man said he was looking for someone with the same name as them. 

The man left the bedroom and entered again before undressing in the resident’s bedroom. 

“I was like freaking out inside,” the resident said. “Like I didn’t know who the hell this was and it was really scary.”

The man asked to have sex with the resident before masturbating on the living room couch. The resident said they got out of bed and told the man to get dressed and leave.

The resident said they have already renewed their lease, so they have no choice but to stay at Lark in the Woods next year.

Even though the resident and their roommate filed a police report, they said that Lark in the Woods has not yet responded to this specific resident’s complaints.

While residents tried to contact the on-site security officer, a recent change to the apartment complex security contact doesn’t allow callers to talk to a real person. Callers can speak with Liam, an artificial intelligence assistant, which told residents to call the police during the incident on Sunday.

Erica Manfredo, a Lark in the Woods resident and a senior majoring in geology, said she lives in Building 4, where some of the break-ins occurred. She said multiple calls were made to Liam; however, the on-site security officer wasn’t alerted to the calls for help until TPD arrived. 

The complex’s general manager, Nia Dinkins, wrote that residents should call 911 if they feel endangered, since the on-site security officer may be away on duty with the TPD. She wrote that he would be paged while on duty about any incidents at Lark in the Woods.

Residents have sent complaints to the complex, and many met Sunday night to write a grievance letter to Lark’s parent company, the Scion Group

Caraline Gandy and Aly Ratcliffe led residents in writing and sending the letter during an hour-and-a-half meeting held in the complex lobby Sunday night to discuss issues and changes that need to be made.

In the letter, residents voiced their concerns for safety and quality of life at Lark in the Woods. The residents said that after the incident Sunday, their safety concerns “have grown to a point of becoming impossible to ignore.”

Dinkins sent two emails to residents, parents and guarantors to explain what happened during Sunday’s incident.

Multiple responses in the GroupMe led residents like Madison Middlebrooks, a sophomore majoring in nursing, to believe seven apartments were entered.

In an email to The Crimson White, Dinkins wrote that the complex urged residents to file police reports if their apartments had been entered. She added that the complex has completed a no-trespass application to prevent the nonresident from reentering the complex, and has also “taken steps” to evict the resident who Dinkins said invited the man to their apartment.

“The safety and personal security of residents are top priorities at Lark in the Woods,” Dinkins wrote. “Measures include providing a gated community, running criminal background checks on all applicants, reminding residents to keep front doors locked, hosting an live-in law enforcement officer as a courtesy officer, and keeping an open channel of communication with residents to inform us and authorities if they witness anything suspicious.”

Manfredo said the day after the break-ins occurred, Lark posted content on Instagram encouraging people to sign or renew their lease. 

She said that after residents commented on the post to discuss the break-ins, the post and comments were deleted. Eventually, comments for all posts were deleted and disabled by the apartment complex’s account.

“It just seemed like they were just sweeping everything under the rug even though what happened the day before was kind of huge, like it affected a lot of people and they acted like nothing happened,” Manfredo said.

Middlebrooks also resides in Building 4. 

Both Manfredo and Middlebrooks said the gates to enter and exit the complex are frequently broken, which allows anyone to easily enter Lark in the Woods. 

The anonymous resident said the complex is holding an information meeting next Wednesday at noon to hear residents’ concerns.

Even though her apartment wasn’t entered, Middlebrooks said the incident was daunting and eye-opening. 

“We grow up thinking it would never happen to you, and then it does,” Middlebrooks said. “That gate no longer gives me a sense of security that I’m protected.”

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