How much is your backpack worth?

May 13, 2014 | 11 a.m.

Culture | Emma Nichols for The Clarion

In the summer of 2013, eight journalism students who traveled to Ghana on a school trip had eight laptops, five iPhones, two cameras and two backpacks stolen. All this added up to over $25,000 worth of electronics and valuables, gone. That’s years of memories, pictures, projects and money invested, simply gone.

Meanwhile, back in St. Paul, 2,800 Bethel University students leave their backpacks unattended for hours outside the campus dining center every day. If eight college students’ backpacks have $25,000 worth of necessities, try the cost of 2,800 backpacks.  

After doing the math here, if all students at Bethel University carried around roughly $2,525 or more worth in books, laptops, phones, wallets, etc., the hallway outside the dining center would cost $8.8 million at any given time.

The Chief of Campus Security and Safety Andrew Luchsinger is confident in the theft prevention of 2,800 backpacks.  There is a strictly enforced rule that no backpacks or large bags are to be brought inside the dining center at any time; this is to reduce the amount of tableware stolen from the inside. Even though thousands of dollars worth of trays, plates, forks, cups and bowls get stolen anyway, students are to keep their backpacks outside to “avoid any temptation to steal.” Good thing the silverware will be safe.

Despite attempts to keep theft to a minimum on campus, there seems to be a problem with stolen backpacks left unattended outside the dining center while their owners are sitting cluelessly inside eating. Two backpack thefts were reported to the Office of Security and Safety last year, but Luchsinger assumes there have been several unreported thefts too.

In an attempt to reduce burglaries of unsuspecting knapsacks, the Office of Security and Safety has placed a student security guard outside the dining center and a new video camera by the exit. As an extra order of precaution, a security guard is often posted at a table in the grill in normal clothes. Despite their most valiant efforts, students still complain that anyone can walk by, pick up any old backpack and claim it as their own. With luck, there will be up to $4,000 in there.

The average student's backpack contains things like a computer, textbooks, phone, wallet, keys, as well as homework, memories and special keepsakes. Along with having expensive things stolen, a lot of potential other dangers can come from having a computer stolen, like access to email, Facebook, personal accounts and bank accounts.

With recent thefts on campus and large price tags on students' belongings, crackdowns are being made and care being taken to protect Bethel's backpacks.


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