Student backpacks stolen near campus

by Tyler Deffebach / Beacon Correspondent • November 15, 2012

Bobby Feltault put his black North Face backpack down on a counter during the crowded morning rush at Emerson Cafe Tuesday. Twenty minutes later, after eating his breakfast, Feltault said he reached for his bag, only to find an empty counter. 

“At first I thought I forgot it when I left my room,” said Feltault, a junior visual and media arts major. “But I knew I had it in the cafe and started looking underneath the table to see if I had misplaced it. But when I couldn’t find it, I was dumbfounded.”

Feltault’s backpack was the third stolen around Emerson this school year, according to Thomas Walsh, the Emerson College Police Department’s deputy director.

Feltault said he lost his MacBook Pro, a $150 business textbook, multiple notebooks, his keys, and two books for his literature class.

The two other school bag thefts earlier this year took place on Boston Common and in a restaurant near campus, according to Walsh.

ECPD Chief Robert Smith, in an email to the Emerson community on Wednesday, advised students to be alert of strangers near their personal belongings and to keep valuables secure at all times.

“We have no leads and no physical description of any suspects at this time,” said Walsh. “We have been proactive in sending officers to areas where the thefts have taken place that are within our jurisdiction, and we are urging faculty and students to remain vigilant.”

He declined to comment on any specifics of the thefts because the cases are ongoing investigations.

Feltault, who had another backpack stolen from a classroom two years ago, said he thinks the college is ill-equipped in terms of on-campus security.

“From what I have seen, we are very underprepared,” said Feltault. “We don’t go to school in the middle of nowhere. And we have had incidents like kids being mugged on the Common, or people wandering into dorm rooms, and it just seems like we don’t have an appropriate response to any of these incidents.”

Feltault also said he thinks his theft could have been prevented if the Emerson Cafe had security cameras, which it currently does not.

Annie Jenkins, a sophomore journalism major, said she knows two of the students who had backpacks stolen and thinks it makes her more paranoid about the safety of her personal belongings on campus.

“Now I am going to be a lot more wary of other people around me,” Jenkins said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose your computer, because it’s kind of my life. It’s really unfortunate.”

Feltault said he does not want to think one of his peers was the thief, but he said it is hard not to.

“I like to believe it’s not Emerson students,” said Feltault. “But this has taught me not to trust anyone with my stuff on campus.”