String of thefts leaves campus on alert

Caitlin Williamson

In the past couple of weeks, multiple academic and administrative buildings on campus were targeted by robbers. A classroom in Science Hall, the Student Academic Services offices in Briggs Hall, a workspace and office in the Wriston Art Center, the box office in the Music and Drama Center and offices in Information Technology Services all were burglarized.
Many of the thefts focused on computer equipment. A laptop from Science Hall, several laptops from ITS and a desktop computer from the Wriston Art Center were stolen. Additionally, the entire safe from the box office in the Music and Drama Center went missing. The most recent theft was reported Tuesday, March 3 at 12:30 p.m., when a student worker noticed that the desktop computer in a workspace was missing from Wriston.
The Appleton Police Department is currently investigating the crimes. They fingerprinted at the sites when possible, but have not yet determined any suspects. Coincidentally, Lawrence was notified before the first break-in that a computer-related theft had occurred at Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisc., said Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Nancy Truesdell. There is no evidence the robberies at the two schools are linked.
One laptop in a classroom in Science Hall was stolen from a cabinet, which was forced open. Last weekend, petty cash and personal items were taken from an office in Student Academic Services on the first floor of Briggs Hall. A large metal cabinet in the office was pried open, but nothing went missing.
“There is no evidence of any kind to attempt to break the door [at Student Academic Services] and none of the windows were broken, so it remains a mystery as to how the perpetrators entered the room,” said Acting Dean of Student Academic Services Geoffrey Gajewski. “We are concerned about the thieves getting into student records, but we don’t have any reason to think that these people are trying to get information on students.”
According to Director of Information Technology Services Steve Armstrong, the ITS help desk was broken into after the door to the workplace was forced open. A student laptop being worked on was taken, as were two laptops in the process of being recycled. The student’s laptop was found the next day in Main Hall, however. According to Armstrong, the ITS break-in occurred the Saturday of reading period during open hours. Security found evidence of a break-in around 11 p.m.
“I’ve been here 12 years and I’ve never seen any theft where they’ve forced open the door,” Armstrong said. “Now we’re double-checking classrooms to make sure equipment is securely locked.”
Lawrence has not had thefts like these in a number of years. Truesdell said there have never been so many incidences in different buildings.
“It’s pretty coincidental if the thefts on campus [are not linked],” Truesdell said.
Whether or not these crimes are a series of isolated incidents, students should be aware of their surroundings and alert security of anything that looks suspicious, said Truesdell. She advises students and faculty to keep their rooms and offices locked, and to protect valuables, specifically computer equipment.
“Members of this campus have a responsibility to keep our eyes and ears open,” Truesdell said. “Be very attentive to your room and office and workspace. If you find that something is missing, don’t touch anything, but call security so they can alert the Appleton police.