By Madeleine Thompson
Three laptops were reported stolen from the Olin and Chalmers Libraries during the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 11. Campus Safety suspects the perpetrators may be linked to a rash of campus thefts dating back to at least mid-September. The description of the individual[s are] pretty consistent, it would appear, said Director of Campus Safety Bob Hooper. Its part of the people that were involved in the theft ring earlier in the semester, the one where we had somebody in Peirce and the [Kenyon Athletic Center]. One suspected laptop thief was described as male, about 6 feet tall, with brown hair and wearing blue camouflage. The other was described as female, about 5 foot 2 inches tall and with brown hair.
Around 9:17 p.m. on Tuesday, a student approached Library Services Supervisor Jenny Beck and informed her that his laptop had been taken from the first floor of Olin. Beck called Campus Safety around 9:30 p.m. while the student went to the Safety office to file a report. After she hung up, Beck paid a visit to the first floor Welcome Desk. I wanted to know if [the attendant had] seen anything suspicious, Beck said. He said after the fact he thought that he saw someone in a camouflage hoodie that couldve been suspicious. He remembered seeing him come in and then walk out with a laptop.
While Beck was on the phone with Director of Library Services Amy Badertscher trying to access surveillance footage, a second laptop went missing, and then a third. The laptops were taken from more secluded parts of the library, on the first and third floors, according to Hooper, and had been left unattended for anywhere from 20 to 90 minutes.
Greg vonFreymann, Campus Safety second shift supervisor, was on duty at the time of the thefts and went to Olin soonafter they occurred. With three Safety officers, he searched the area around the library and spoke with Beck and the students whose laptops were stolen. A deputy sheriff was expected to visit campus on Wednesday night to discuss the incident with Safety officers and begin what will be a combined effort to locate the suspect.
In mid-September, two suspects of similar descriptions were reported at the scenes of thefts in Peirce Hall and the Kenyon Athletic Center. According to Hooper and vonFreymann, these thefts have several commonalities, including the descriptions of the suspects and the category of stolen items laptops iPhones, anything thats easily pawnable, Hooper said.
But the connection may go back further than September. A man fitting the laptop thief suspects was arrested on campus several years ago for stealing from the library, and he spent time in prison for the thefts. Hes an individual weve had a trespass letter against for three or four years now, vonFreymann said. He was doing the same thing, and now hes out of prison so we think hes back doing the same thing here on campus. At the time of the thefts several years ago, information was released to the student body about the suspect.
In response to the current situation, Campus Safety will expand their surveillance routes to cover the library more often. Additionally, Safety may install more security cameras in open campus areas over the next few years, Hooper said. Until then, students should stay vigilant.
Give us the opportunity to question the person, vonFreymann said. Hooper added, Its crucial for campus to report anything, any strange activity, that kind of fits the bill. Even if its somebody local or a professor or a student, it doesnt really matter, he said. Just put the switchboard number in your phone and call us and let us know.