Bear Village increased security measures after a series of posts to a Facebook group called “Missouri State Gals Sell Your Stuff” accused a security guard of following women into their buildings, getting inside the elevator with them and walking them to their doors.
In a Facebook post, a Missouri State student said a man with darker hair in a “black security-looking outfit” walked by and asked her if she was cold.
She said she replied no and was waiting for a friend.
“As she walks up he follows us into the building, gets in the elevator with us and follows us all the way down to my room until we got inside and we are like OK bye thanks ... that was already really weird,” the Facebook post said.
That incident occurred on Friday night. On Sunday night around 9:30, she said this same man knocked on her door and rang her doorbell.
“He waited around and then 20 seconds later or so he left,” the Facebook post said.
Concerns about a “creepy security guard” at Bear Village were echoed by multiple other women in the Facebook group.
Bear Village Manager Ericka Peppers said there was a miscommunication between the women and the security guard, who no longer works on the property.
Bear Village’s security, Southern Missouri Judicial Security Services, has a policy where a guard will walk someone into the building to ensure their safety. Peppers said this is what the security guard thought he was doing.
“After I met with them, he did document everything,” Peppers said. “That’s what he thought he was doing.”
Sgt. Casey Wilkerson with the Springfield Police Department said “safe walks” are fairly common with security companies.
“If you call and ask, ‘Can I get a safe walk?’ they’re gonna meet you at your exact location and they’re going to walk with you or follow you from point A to point B,” Wilkerson said. “They’re going to follow you into the building to make sure you get there.”
Peppers said Bear Village and SMOJS changed their safe walk policy, so now residents have to call a 24-hour number and ask for a guard to walk with them. Then, when a guard approaches the resident, they have to verify the person wants someone to accompany them inside.
Peppers said although the women took to Facebook to share the issue, no official reports were filed. However, when she saw the posts she met with SMOJS.
“I sat down with the manager operator who oversees all the guards and removed the guard from our property,” Peppers said. “Then we went over a code of conduct.”
She said she appreciates SMOJS for responding to the issue quickly and giving Bear Village another guard.
Bear Village added a 24-hour courtesy officer that lives on the property. According to Peppers, the guards for SMOJS are there to watch and observe while the on-site officer intervenes.
Peppers said these extra security measures are not connected with the armed robbery that happened a few weeks ago.
“It was not on Bear Village property,” Peppers said. “Unfortunately, it just all happened at the same time. It was actually our neighbors.”
With all of these changes, Wilkerson still advises residents to make sure they feel comfortable.
“If (residents are) not comfortable with the security guard that they’ve had there, please report that to management,” Wilkerson said. “Make sure management’s aware that because if they’re not reporting stuff, they’re not going to know that there’s a problem.”