Theft on campus should produce awareness, not fear
News | Jon Westmark
Theft rates are higher in low-traffic areas like the library. | Erin Gallagher
In accordance with the Clery Act, the Office of Security and Safety sent out its annual crime statistics this month. Looking through the numbers may feel a bit like reading binary code – a lot of zeros with some ones mixed in. The largest exception is the total number of thefts.
In September, two laptops were stolen on Bethel’s campus on the same day. The first incident took place the morning of Sept. 25, when a Loft attendant’s 13-inch Macbook Pro was stolen. The second theft occurred later in the women’s locker room, where a computer and debit card were taken.
Loft attendant Alli Berggren was one of the two students who had their belongings stolen. “I assumed it was someone from Bethel,” she said. “I don’t see why anyone else would come all the way up to the Loft because nobody knows that it is really a place to go.”
According to Chief of Security Andrew Luchsinger, theft is “a crime of opportunity.” It is more common in low-traffic areas that present perpetrators with the opportunity to steal without being detected. The high-traffic hallway outside the Dining Center is a good counterexample, according to Luchsinger. The rate of theft is low in the area outside of the DC. It avoids the possible worry of having personal items stolen from backpacks that are placed outside of the DC to prevent food theft.
Luchsinger said students must be more vigilant about reducing the opportunity for theft in other locations around campus. Signs in the library warn against leaving belongings unprotected, not because the library caters to a rougher crowd than the DC, but because the opportunity for theft is greater in such a low-traffic area. By leaving valuables unattended, students contribute to their belongings being stolen, Luchsinger said. He also said that items left unattended in the library are at a higher risk for cyber-crime.
The suspect in September’s laptop case came from off campus, but according to Luchsinger, about 80 percent of thefts on campuses across the nation are committed by current students, staff or faculty.
The rate of theft on campus is lower than it is elsewhere in Ramsey County, and in 2011 the total number of thefts fell from 32 in 2010 to just 21. By law, Bethel need only report larceny that is motivated by prejudice, but the Office of Security and Safety also reports all non-biased crimes in an effort to raise awareness.
Awareness is the best tool students have to keep from putting themselves at risk, according to Luchsinger. Keeping valuables in a secluded spot like a locker room may seem preferable to keeping them in the hallway, but if they are not secured, they may still be at a higher risk for theft.
The Office of Security and Safety’s website includes videos on how to protect against crime. They encourage students to report any suspicious activity by calling them at 651-638-6055 or the anonymous tip line at 651-635-1480.