Investigating thefts on campus

According to the Federal Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990, records of certain crime reports must be made public by institutions of higher learning. In accordance with this law, the past three years’ reports are made available by Campus Safety and Security.

What this federal act does not require, however, is public reports of campus’s most common crime: theft.

Leaving your phone or laptop or other valuables behind in a public place is never good. Theft is common in places like colleges, and unattended valuables are prime targets. (Photo by Kaitie Fox)

Sophomore communication arts student Elizabeth Finley said that, as a commuter, she doesn’t always need to bring her computer to campus. One fateful day in October of 2012, however, her schedule required it.

“I was in my directing class and we were having auditions that day for the Ten Minute Play Festival, so it was really chaotic,” Finley said. “After that class was over, I just left without [my laptop.]”

Finley said that she had driven back home and was talking with her mom when she realized what she was missing.

“I was literally mid sentence and I just stopped talking and stood there,” Finley said. “I was just sort of mad at myself at that point.”

Finley called her sister to look in the theatre for the computer but, two hours after the end of the class, it was not there. The next day, Finley said that she searched the classrooms in which she had been. She also talked to the director of the theatre, Jim Brothers.

Feeling pessimistic about the situation, Finley said that she went to Campus Safety to file a report.

“They weren’t exactly optimistic,” Finley said.

To try to locate laptops on campus, campus safety can track the general location of a device that is registered on the Malone network. In Finley’s case, this effort proved fruitless.

During fall break in 2012, however, Campus Safety notified Finley that her laptop had been found by the cleaning crew.

“Their guess was that someone took it, tried to use it, realized it was password protected and dumped it,” Finley said.

Finley said that her experience with Campus Safety was very positive, citing helpfulness and timely communication from the staff.

Junior social work student Hannah Crabbs has known of peers who have had belongings stolen and never recovered.

“No matter where you are, things are going to be stolen,” Crabbs said.

Crabbs suggested a change in the way students look at security issues.

“I think it’s silly how much people complain about Campus Safety,” Crabbs said. “I think they probably do the best they can and are trained to do in this setting. I also think that, for theft to decrease at Malone, our integrity must increase.”

Crabbs said that she tasks herself with the job of maintaining the security of her own possessions.

“I feel bad for those who have had things stolen,” Crabbs said. “As for me, I make sure to I keep my things with me at all times because I feel like it’s my own responsibility to watch my things.”

Director of Campus Safety and Security, David Burnip, manages all contract safety officers on campus and oversees campus emergency preparedness, the video surveillance system, and the card swipe system.

Burnip said that theft is the most common crime committed on campus.

“We get everything from peoples’ socks out of the dryer in the residence halls to laptops, iPhones, and MacBooks,” Burnip said.

He said with our open campus, people outside of Malone sometimes come and prey on students.

“This year, for the first time–we believe the first time ever–there were four vehicles stolen in the first two weeks. We recovered all four of them.”

He said two people were involved in these thefts: one student, who was sent home and a community member, who is currently serving time in state prison.

Despite this school year’s auto thefts, which will be recorded in the 2012 report, Burnip said that campus theft has seen a significant decrease in the past eight years since he began working here.

“When I came here there were maybe eight cameras on this campus, and we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 or 70 cameras now,” Burnip said.

At the end of the 2011-2012 school year, Burnip said that eight or nine laptops were returned to their owners with the help of the camera and swipe card systems.

Burnip recommends that faculty and students who have the capability should register applications like Find My iPhone on their devices.

Kim Farkas is a staff writer for The Aviso AVW.

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