Reported theft on campus spiked in October, nearly tripling reports last October

Monthly reported thefts have fluctuated since 2017

Reported theft on campus spiked in October, nearly tripling reports last October
This semester, signs in Bender Library, which had the most reported campus theft in October, warned students not to leave valuable items unattended.

Reported campus theft spiked in October and, at 19 incidents, nearly tripled reported campus theft from October last year, according to The Eagle’s review of AUPD’s crime log.

While the number of reported campus theft incidents fell to eight in November, that figure hasn’t been that high since August 2017.

“Theft occurs because of a number of reasons,” said Phillip Morse, assistant vice president of University police services. “If you don’t secure your property, theft will occur.”

Morse said in an interview that he wasn’t aware of October’s reported theft spike.

There was nearly double the number of reported thefts on campus in October than in September, when 10 incidents reportedly took place in locations including Mary Graydon Center, Butler Pavilion and the Battelle-Tompkins Building.

The Eagle did not include off-campus theft in the review. Here’s a full list of locations included in our review, which focused on reported theft from January 2017 through November this year. Taking property without right, a lower-level charge, was also not included in the review.

In 2017, 93 thefts were reported on campus. That number dropped to 73 last calendar year, but 86 campus thefts were reported this year through November. MGC, Anderson Hall, Katzen Arts Center and the Sports Center had some of the highest reports during those years. 

While the crime log does not specify which items were reported as stolen, Morse said laptops and cell phones make up a large portion of the reports.

Junior Tanner Mecham’s bike disappeared from a bike rack near Cassell Hall after his friend locked it there before winter break last year, Mecham said.

“There’s really no one on campus over winter break and I feel like if you’re a thief, that’s prime targeting,” he said.

Third-year student Forrest Holcombe said his bike was stolen from a bike rack near the Letts and Anderson halls when he was a freshman. Holcombe, who now lives off campus, would like to ride a bike to AU, but said it’s not worth the money. 

Neither Holcombe nor Mecham’s friend reported the incidents to AUPD because the bikes weren’t registered through the AU Parking Portal.

After a theft is reported, AUPD’s investigation includes searching for witnesses and video footage and looking through pawn shops and Craigslist to try to find the perpetrator, Morse said. However, students often don’t want to prosecute the individual, and sometimes items reported as stolen were actually just misplaced. 

Most reported thefts in Bender Library occurred this year, out of the three years. The library, which now has signs in the lobby warning students not to leave their items unattended, had the highest on-campus theft reports this October, at four incidents, followed by Constitution Hall and the McKinley Building, which both had two.

The day before her midterm exams in October, sophomore Abby Sklencar reported to AUPD that her laptop was stolen from a library desk after she left the building to get food.

Library faculty and staff took various steps this semester to try to prevent theft, including placing signs on unattended laptops that reminded students to keep their computers with them or place them in laptop lockers, according to Michele Mikkelsen, the library’s director of administrative services.

Sklencar said she’s become more aware of campus theft this semester, and having her laptop disappear changed the way she handles her belongings.

“I don’t leave my stuff anywhere,” she said. “I don’t even ask anyone in the library. If I have to go to the bathroom, I just take everything with me.”

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