Thieves will be on the prowl

Steve Bushong

Lock up your valuables dorm-dwellers; someone may have his or her eye on your possessions, Kent State University Police Services warns.

Though there haven’t been any reported thefts this year, Lt. Carl Sweigert said “there will be.”

Kent State police recorded 209 thefts last year on campus, with game consoles topping the thieves’ wanted list.

Other targets not far from the top included cash and laptops.

Sweigert said theft between roommates is rare, despite the accessibility. Most thefts are a “crime of opportunity,” he said.

Students often leave their doors open when they leave their rooms, inviting thieves in, Sweigert said.

“You go down the hall just to borrow something, but then there’s a football game on and an hour goes by,” Sweigert said. During that time, an unlucky student could lose a laptop or other valuables.

“It’s a common thing for a resident to say, ‘I trust everyone on the floor,’ but maybe you don’t know everyone,” Sweigert said.

Theft is the most common crime on campus, Lt. William Buckbee said. And it takes place everywhere, not only in the dorms, he said.

The Student Center and University Library are popular destinations for would-be thieves.

“There are people who go to the library, they get a book and try to blend in. They’re looking for an opportunity to steal an iPod or purse,” Buckbee said.

Unconcealed items inside vehicles also beckon crime. Police recommend storing anything of value in the car’s trunk or under a seat.

The most important thing is to keep your possessions guarded, Sweigert said.

Most stolen items aren’t recovered, unless the serial number on an electronic is eventually tracked. Theft of cash is virtually unprovable, unless there are witnesses, Sweigert said.

Sweigert recommends getting a safe for valuables in the residence halls and always locking the door.

When visiting the Hub or other crowded place, officer Alice Ickes and Buckbee recommend students use the power-in-numbers strategy to protect belongings.

If students are going to leave their possessions on a table while they wait in line for food, someone should stand guard at the table, they said.

“The criminal mind is very interesting,” Ickes said. “They’re always hunting, and they see the University as ripe for the picking.”

For students thinking about becoming a culprit, penalties for stealing can be steep.

“There are two court systems for students,” Sweigert said. That could result in twice the penalties.

Any theft, from a pencil to a futon, can result in a first degree misdemeanor from the police department. Theft of an expensive item, such as a laptop, is a fifth degree felony, Sweigert said.

Then officers will hand the student a white slip, which sends the thief to the Office of Judicial Affairs.

“Judicial Affairs will hear the facts of the case and decide if the student should stay in school,” Sweigert said.

Contact safety reporter Steve Bushong at [email protected].


• Band Instuments

• Laptops and similar devices, such as PDAs

• Sports equipment

• MP3 players and accessories

• Digital cameras

Source: Allstate press release