Number of thefts on campus causes changes in security

Caitlyn Callahan

During the fall 2011 semester, there were 87 reports of theft on campus. So far in the spring semester, there have been 35 reports.

Michquel Penn, Community Resource Officer at the Kent State University Police Department, said theft is one of those issues the police department sees again and again, and is looked at as a crime of opportunity.

“We have a lot of students just leave their laptops and stuff right at their desk because they didn’t want to pack it up or lose their spot,” Penn said. “Then it’s gone when they come back.”

Penn said common stolen items are laptops, book bags and textbooks.

“If somebody is looking for some quick money, people will take textbooks and sell them back,” Penn said.

She said now, a lot of bookstores in the area are working together to make sure if they have information or something looks suspicious, they will alert each other and the police department to prevent the problems.

However, the larceny-theft incident report states the majority of thefts take place in residence halls.

“I think students are a little too comfortable in their surroundings and forgetting that there are people around that they don’t know, and you can’t trust everyone,” Penn said. She said she recommends students make sure their doors are not bolted if they leave their rooms, even if just for a minute.

Another area where there have been multiple thefts is the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. Last semester there were 15 reported thefts, and so far this semester there have been 14.

Maggie McKendry, Guest Services Coordinator at the Rec, attributes the higher volume of thefts to a hike in attendance — there are more people visiting the Rec every day.

“First, this last January we had a record number of swipes for the building,” she said. “We had 72,860 swipes, or entries … that literally is the highest number of entries for one month we’ve had since the building opened.” She said another reason is people leave their valuables unattended, and like in any other public location, it makes their things a prime target.

“I highly encourage our patrons to secure their personal belongings when they’re visiting our facility,” McKendry said. She said several things are being done to provide additional security, including putting up posters and stickers, selling combination locks in the Pro Shop, and now providing key locks for rent.

The key locks are for the day lockers in the men and women’s locker rooms. They can be rented at the equipment issue desk by using a membership of Flashcard and signing them out.

“We’re just providing that extra little bit of security for people to help encourage them to be really securing their belongings,” McKendry said.

The new stickers will let people know valuables have been stolen from that area, and will remind them to lock up their things.

“We also encourage people to leave valuable items at home,” McKendry said. “[Valuables] really aren’t things you want to be bringing anywhere with you unless you’re using [them].”

McKendry also said the Rec has an excellent security system and good collaboration with the police department.

“Anything [the police department] wants us to do to help everyone secure their stuff, we’re just right away trying to implement it as quickly as possible,” she said.

Sergeant Wayne Parker is the patrol officer at the Rec, and McKendry said there will be more of a police presence in the future.

“I don’t know that people realize that we do have the area under surveillance, so hopefully that will make people more aware to not be stealing,” she said.

Penn said she recommends all students file a police report if something of theirs has been stolen. She said many students don’t report it because they don’t think their property will ever be found, but that makes it difficult for the police department to spot problem areas.

“If there is a place somebody is targeting, then that may be something we need to look into to set up something to prevent that from happening,” Penn said.

To report something stolen, Penn said students can call Kent State’s non-emergency police line, 330-672-2212, and an officer will be sent out to take the report. Or, students can fill out a report in the Stockdale building, which is open 24 hours a day.

Contact Caitlyn Callahan at [email protected].