Bruce Thompson of LBCC Loss Prevention shows off the surveillance system in the Public Safety office. Photo by William Allison
“Prevent theft – Secure locker before leaving locker room”
This is what students are faced with upon entering and exiting the locker rooms in the Activity Center. However, locks didn’t stop a determined thief from cutting the metal lockers open in the women’s locker room on Friday, Jan. 10. The break-in occurred between 9 and 10 a.m. According to Bruce Thompson, loss prevention coordinator at LBCC, several lockers were broken into with either bolt cutters or heavy gauge diagonal cutters. After cutting the metal lockers themselves, rather than the lock, the thief got away with a purse belonging to a part time faculty member. The staff member reported that cash, credit cards, IDs, an iPad, and a phone were taken. While the security footage has provided little information, Albany Police Department has a few leads and is tracking the iPad through Apple’s Find My iPhone (or iPad, in this case) feature. Find My iPhone, which uses GPS and Wi-Fi to determine the device’s position, can remotely display a message, lock, erase, and of course, track the device.
Backpack stolen, suspect arrested
LBCC Public Safety says the locker break-in wasn’t the only theft during the first week of winter term. Around 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 9, a former female student picked up a backpack containing books and an iPad from outside the bookstore. After ditching the bag in a women’s bathroom in North Santiam Hall and leaving with the belongings, she and her male accomplice went to the Heritage Mall, attempting to sell the iPad. Once the iPad connected to Wi-Fi, it sent out a signal to the owner, who also has Find My iPhone activated. The male returned to LBCC and tried to sell the books that were in the stolen bag at the book buyback. The books were still in the plastic shrink wrap. According to Lawrence LaJoie, bookstore manager, employees were on the lookout for these particular books and police were notified, leading to his arrest. It is unknown at this point if the two events are related. Many students have expressed concern about leaving their most expensive belongings in the open, with the fear that this very event would happen. The bookstore has this policy to prevent theft during the busiest times of the year. “I think it’s a useful idea but it puts people at risk,” Heather Hutchman said. “I’ve always been uncomfortable leaving my bag outside the bookstore.” Students aren’t the only ones left stunned by the theft either. “I’m shocked,” LaJoie said. “It’s the first time since I’ve been here, and I started five years ago.”
Increasing security measures
After the theft of student artwork from the North Santiam Hall Gallery in May 2013, LBCC Public Safety decided to install more cameras, hoping that the increased security would deter future crimes. The quality of the new cameras is significantly better than the ones that were already in place, some are even wireless. These new surveillance tools aren’t cheap however, which limits the college to how many they can install. Some have suggested that dummy cameras be installed to at least make criminals think twice, but Thompson doesn’t like this idea. “If something happens and I get asked for footage, how will I explain it then?” he said. “We’re adding cameras as quickly as the budget will allow.” To prevent thefts from happening outside the bookstore, criminal justice student Jessica Olson suggested adding a “cubby space inside the bookstore where students could leave their bags and know that they are being watched.” While they are not inside the store, there are lockers available for free just outside the bookstore. LaJoie said that tokens will be handed out at the door for students who wish to use the lockers. To prevent this from happening again, LBCC Public Safety has installed an additional camera outside of the bookstore and the bookstore is looking to expand the lockers, allowing more students to secure their belongings. Olson also said that it is “discouraging that theft and criminal behavior can so easily taint campus life.”