Victim of larceny claims thief not from Emerson

by Beacon Staff • March 28, 2007

her laptop and iPod, were stolen from Emerson's library. Stephanie Appell, a junior writing, literature and publishing

major, was working on a paper in the library on Tuesday, March 13, around 7:30 p.,A student has challenged the efficiency of campus security following an incident in which several expensive items, including

her laptop and iPod, were stolen from Emerson's library.

Stephanie Appell, a junior writing, literature and publishing

major, was working on a paper in the library on Tuesday, March 13, around 7:30 p.m. when, according to Appell, she left her desk briefly to make photo copies and went up a floor to get a soda. "When I came back," she said, "everything was gone."

She said she wasn't gone for more than 15 minutes, but that was enough time for a thief to steal her laptop, iPod and bag containing her cell phone, wallet and keys. Both her phone and iPod were brand new and, according to Appell, all together, the valuables were worth about $3,000.

"At first, it was almost hard to believe," she said. "I thought, 'Is someone playing a joke?'"

She reported it to the Emerson

police and, although nobody saw the incident, Appell found out there was a security camera in the doorway of the library. She figured she could use this to get her stuff back.

"Even if we can't catch him, maybe I'll know what he looks like," she said. "I could have found out if it was a student or not."

However, after receiving an e-mail from a library staff member, Appell received disappointing

news. Despite expressing sympathy,

Tom Neenan, the library circulation manager, said that there was no way to identify the offender on the tape.

According to an e-mail from Neenan, "The tape for the surveillance

camera had run out and had not been changed. (It's far from state of the art.) Again, I'm very sorry."

Public Safety officials claim that changing the tape is the library's responsibility. However, staff members were unavailable to comment on why this was not done.

While there is no solid evidence,

Appell said she thinks that the thief was not an Emerson student. She claims that practically anyone can get into the Walker Building since students don't have to swipe in with their IDs before 6:30 p.m.

"Imagine if you were the kind of person who does this, who steals laptops and cell phones and sells them," she said. "All you would have to do is look somewhat young, maybe dress like a student, carry a backpack, come in before five o'clock, and wait."

Although Appell takes full responsibility for leaving her things unattended, she does feel that campus security is lacking. She believes that Emerson should follow library security policies similar to other schools that are located in major metropolitan

areas.

For example, according to library staff and security officials at both NYU and Northeastern University, students are required to check in with their student ID upon entering the libraries. Both schools have also invested in security cameras. For Northeastern, cameras are a recent installment in response to problems with security.

According to Donna Kennedy,

the head of access services at Northeastern, "We are at the point where we are having them installed. We do have some security incidents like theft. We feel like the camera would not only be a deterrent, but would able us to check back if anything

happened."

Appell agrees that all of these precautions are necessary."We have to be realistic and realize that we are in the heart of one of the biggest cities with a large homeless population and with people who are going to take advantage of you and your innocence or your trust," she said.

Appell said the best solution she can think of is requiring everyone who comes into the library to have to check-in just like at these other schools.

However, according to Neenan, library theft does not occur with enough frequency to warrant such a response. "It happens, but not with a great deal of regularity," he said.

In addition, there are signs posted throughout the library warning students not to leave their belongings unattended.

Despite this, other students, like freshman performing arts major Julian Travis, claim that security issues at Emerson go beyond the library and into the dorms where the guards aren't always doing their job.

"I'm up late a lot at like 4:30 in the morning. They will be on the Mac computers, not even sitting at their desks," said Travis.

Freshman writing literature and publishing major, Jessa Brezinski, has even witnessed the guards sleeping at times."When I leave for work in the mornings at 5:30, they are all asleep," she said. "So anyone could just waltz in and no one would notice."

Whether it's in the dorms or any other building on campus, Appell wants students to be aware, because a similar situation

could be much more dangerous,

especially if someone outside of Emerson's community

gets in.

"That's even more scary because imagine someone bringing some weapon in," she said.