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New England College freshman accused of panty thefts arrested by Henniker police

When Carissa O’Brien, a freshman at New England College, heard that her dorm room was broken into over winter break, she thought the worst. “I was nervous my TV was going to be gone,” she said.

The reality wasn’t clear until she went to the Henniker police station with her roommate and two friends, donned rubber gloves and watched as an officer dumped an assortment of lingerie and toiletries from a bag.

“I was like, ‘This is mine, this is mine,’ ” she said. “I was just kind of mortified that I was picking up my own bras and underwear.”

On Monday, the Henniker police arrested Cameron Dial, 20, and charged him with five counts of burglary and 13 counts of receiving stolen property. A former freshman at NEC from Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., he is accused of taking female clothing, undergarments and other items from 18 female victims who live in West Hall.

The police began their investigation in early January, after being alerted to break-ins into several female dorm rooms at West Hall. All of the occupants were off on winter break, and the police said they believe Dial used a crowbar to pry off door locks to enter the rooms.

A resident of the co-ed West Hall himself, Dial was there over the break to take an elective course during NEC’s January term. According to the police, on Jan. 14, a student saw Dial in West Hall’s laundry room going through her friend’s dryer before taking something and putting it in a bag.

When the Henniker officers were called to the dorm, Dial wouldn’t let them into his room. When they executed a search warrant a day later, the police said, they discovered a crowbar and women’s clothing.

Then, the Henniker police began asking the female victims to come to the station to identify their belongings.

“A lot of them were pretty shocked and surprised,” said Detective Michelle Dandeneau. “Some did know him by face, had seen him in the hallway, some had talked to him before.”

Several students interviewed yesterday said they were shocked when they learned Dial had been accused of the crime. O’Brien thought it would have been someone off-campus. She said Dial had been helping her with car problems. “He’s a big muscle car fan, and I had a Mustang.”

Jillian Cotter is a freshman living in the residence hall next door. “He seemed like a chill guy, would never harm anyone,” she said.

The arrest left students wondering whether the items had been taken for personal reasons or to sell.

“I think a lot of people would like answers,” said Dandeneau.

Dial turned himself in Monday, according to the police, and his arraignment is scheduled for April 15. He was freed after posting $6,000 cash bail, and will also face $21,000 personal recognizance bail if he violates the terms of his release.

He is no longer an enrolled student at the school, said Dia Kalakonas, an NEC spokeswoman, in an email. She also said the school has been updating students on the investigation’s progress and takes student safety seriously.

All the claimed personal items were returned to the victims, after being photographed and logged, Dandeneau said. O’Brien kept her expensive bras, but tossed the underwear, razor and shaving cream. “I didn’t really need that stuff back,” she said.

(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or amorris@cmonitor.com.)

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