On-campus thefts rise

by Beacon Staff • February 15, 2006

Instances of theft on campus have risen in recent weeks, according to Emerson College Police Department (ECPD) records. In the first two weeks of this month, three laptops were reported stolen. In January, at least one iPod and one cell phone were reported stolen from students and faculty while on campus, according to ECPD.

December and January saw 12 reports of larceny. Eight reports were logged in September, October and November combined, according to ECPD records.

ECPD Lieutenant Scott Bornstein attributes the rise in theft reports to a periodic fluctuation of crime on campus.

"Stuff like this comes in waves," Bornstein said. "We'll go months without any significant losses, but then we'll have a time when there are a lot. It usually evens out."

Bornstein said it was unclear whether or not a single individual is responsible for the recent thefts.

Most of the incidents have been reported from the classroom buildings at 120 Boylston St. and 180 Tremont St., Bornstein said.

He recommended that, in addition to securing valuables, students and teachers stay aware of conspicuous individuals in Emerson buildings. During class hours, no identification is required to enter these areas, he said.

Securitas guards are required to swipe IDs of individuals entering the buildings after 6:30 p.m. on weekdays and all day during weekends. Of the recent thefts, all but two occurred prior to card-swiping hours, according to Bornstein.

"A lot of the time, when something is stolen, we ask, 'Did you see anyone suspicious hanging around?'" Bornstein said. "And often enough the person says, 'Well, come to think of it .'"

Anthony Consiglio said that he experienced just this situation when his laptop was stolen Feb. 6.

Consiglio, a senior broadcast journalism major, said he was working in the back room of the Journalism Television Facility (JTF) office when he stepped away from his three-week-old Dell Inspiron 6000 to go to the bathroom at around 4:15 p.m., leaving the machine unattended.

"I believe that I passed the guy who did it on my way to the bathroom," Consiglio said. "He didn't look too out of place, like he was on his way to a class or something, but I had never seen him before."

Bornstein said that individuals not affiliated with Emerson should be reported to ECPD when found in Emerson buildings.

In one situation last week, a man not affiliated with the college was sitting in the elevator area of one of the upper floors at 120 Boylston St. for two hours before he was asked if he needed help. According to Bornstein, the man responded "no" and left.

However, not all on-campus thefts can be attributed to those who do not belong inside Emerson buildings. Bornstein said that many on-campus thefts go unsolved, but evidence will often suggest that Emerson-affiliated people are responsible for larceny. Particularly with theft in residence halls there is a high probability the crimes are in-house, Bornstein said.

"We do have some students stealing from students," Bornstein said.

Paul Lieber said he may have been a victim of in-house crime when his laptop was stolen Feb. 7.

Lieber, an assistant professor of marketing communication, said he left his college-issued laptop in his locked office overnight last Tuesday.

When he returned to the office the next morning, the laptop was gone, but there were no signs of forced entry at the door, he said.

"I don't feel like security is that much of an issue on campus at Emerson College," Lieber said. "I never really felt threatened. It just makes me a little bit more aware of what can happen."

The college replaced the laptop and the locks were changed on the office door, Lieber said.

Jonathan Satriale, Journalism Technology Manager, wrote an e-mail to the journalism students and faculty on Feb. 8 urging those within the department to report suspicious persons and to protect expensive equipment.

"Professors with laptops, you may want to consider a lock that keeps the laptop tethered to your desk," Satriale wrote. "This can prevent a quick swipe--though they're not totally impervious to theft. Our office assistant can assist with the purchase of such a lock."

Consiglio suggested that stricter measures be taken to allow access to Emerson buildings.

"I understand that there are too many people around to have everyone swipe an ID going into the building," Consiglio said. "But maybe if you have to flash an ID to show that you're related to the college, it'd be a way to keep an eye on people."