Campus thief strikes

Emily Gonzalez

Last month several thefts occurred on the Lawrence campus, and few of them were closely related. Though these thefts may seem relatively small, they have caused many students to question how trusting of public areas they can be.
The two closely related thefts occurred on Oct. 12 and Oct. 16. Both incidents involved had two important factors, one of which is commonly found in cases of theft, in common. First, in both cases, students’ backpacks or wallets were handled, especially if they appeared to contain certain valuable items. These included cell phones, textbooks, keys, credit cards, cash, CD players, driver’s licenses, check cards, and digital camera, all of which were stolen either separately or together with a backpack.
The second factor involved is the places where the thefts occurred. The areas that most frequently attract theft are the common lounges and open areas in the Music-Drama Center, Wriston Art Center, and Recreation Center. Though one incident occurred in the evening hours, when less people would be around, most of the thefts have occurred in the middle of the day.
A particularly curious thing about these recent thefts is how they have not been very spaced out. Dean Truesdell commented on past events, “Each year we have a few thefts, but they seemed generally random-not a number at one time or from the same location on a repeat basis.”
Sophomore Anna Schmidt experienced an attempted theft on Oct. 27. Schmidt explained that she was practicing in the Conservatory around four or five in the evening when the theft occurred. She had left her backpack in her locker, “with the door shut and the lock on, but not locked.”
After finding that the backpack had been stolen, Schmidt immediately called security to notify them. Shortly after, Schmidt said, “one of the janitors overheard me saying I’d had my backpack stolen and he told me that he might know where it was.”
The janitor told Schmidt he had noticed someone earlier in the dressing room under Stansbury Theatre, looking through a bag. He also described the person as “with blonde hair and on crutches.” Schmidt found her bag in the room, and though nothing was stolen from it, the bag had “clearly been looked through.” Schmidt speculated that the thief had most likely been looking for “fast cash,” because although her wallet was not in the bag, the thief could have stolen schoolbooks or instruments worth much more.
“I was lucky there was a witness or else it might have taken a lot longer to get [the backpack] back, or I might never have gotten it back,” Schmidt said.
Students and faculty have been notified not to leave valuables or personal belongings unattended in open areas; or if they are left in more secluded places, to make sure they are locked up.
As far as what Lawrentians can do to help prevent future thefts, Truesdell gave a few other recommendations. “Be on the lookout for strangers or those who look as though they don’t have business on campus. Contact security immediately if you see anything that seems out of the ordinary or you have a sense that someone does not belong where you see them.