Nine laptop thefts have been reported on campus since February, prompting students to begin locking their doors at all times, a practice that many admit they’ve never done before.
“We never locked our doors until the robbery happened on our floor,” said Hughes Hall resident Anna Friedlander, a freshman in the School of Public Affairs. “It’s scary and random, and the fact that the theft occurred in the room farthest from the elevator just doesn’t seem convenient.”
The first theft occurred in December and cases began to pick up in February, according to Maurice Carter, crime analyst and administrator for AU’s Public Safety.
The hardest hit halls since February are Hughes Hall, with three thefts and Centennial, with four.
In addition to laptops, two iPods and one digital camera have been stolen, Carter said.
Public Safety has been working with the front desk staff of AU’s six residence halls, reiterating the I.D. checking policy.
“We have also been advising students not to allow other students to come in on their I.D.‘s,” Carter said. “We have also issued a crime alert and have advised students to always lock their doors, which is something they should be doing already.”
McDowell Hall residents Katie Diesinger, a sophomore in the School of Communication, and Rachel Shattuck, a sophomore in the School of International Service were victims of one of the thefts. Diesinger, Shattucks and a third roommate had their laptops and an iPod stolen from their residence hall room.
While her two roommates were attending class, Shattucks left the room for approximately a half-hour to visit her resident assistant at the front desk of McDowell. “When I came up to my room, the door was locked, which was odd because I knew that I had left the door unlocked when I left,” Shattucks said. “It took a while for everything to register…I ran back downstairs and told my R.A. Public Safety came immediately and took reports from us and called the MPD, so at one point there were about five officers in our room.”
According to Shattucks, her floor is very tight-knit.
“I can’t imagine it being someone on our floor…Still, always lock your doors and always watch for people you don’t know on your floor,” Shattucks said.
Diesinger suggested all students be wary of the crimes, because it could happen anywhere.
“The theft that my roommates and I experienced was the first and only in McDowell,” Diesinger said. “I advise students to always lock their doors, even if they trust their floor mates…The thief could be anyone.”
Carter had no information on the identity of the laptop thief, but offered suggestions to students.
“Lock your doors,” Carter said. “This guy is getting into the dorms somehow and we’re not quite sure, but the important thing to remember is that the person doing this is an opportunist.”
According to Shattucks, professors have been very understanding of her situation.
“I had a twenty page paper due Wednesday that is completely gone, so I have a little more time on that at least, Shattucks said.
Public Safety is currently unsure if the suspect is a student or an individual unaffiliated with AU.