Smith Residence Hall has had seven cases of theft as of March 16. Items that have been stolen include four iPods, three Macbooks, two iPads, a watch, a pair of headphones, an IBM laptop and a wallet containing a debit card, a driver’s license and an ID card. The idea that students’ property is entirely safe has been questioned by residents of Smith residence hall over the course of this semester. Smith residents, including freshmen Bill Webb and Stephen Rittersbach, are frustrated with the situation.
“I feel like in Smith everyone’s pretty friendly with each other,” Webb said. “This is just violating everyone’s trust that somebody who everybody’s friendly with (might be doing this). It’s just frustrating that we have to deal with this and make sure we’re locking our doors and being extra careful.”
[quote]This is just violating everyone's trust that someday who everybody's friendly with (might be doing this). It's just frustrating that we have to deal with this and make sure we're locking our doors and being extra careful. -Bill Webb Freshman Resident[/quote]
Webb and Rittersbach live on the second floor of Smith, where six of the seven larcenies reported this semester have occurred. Webb said students always used to leave doors unlocked, but now they generally don’t. Rittersbach and Webb agree that although the thefts affected the hall’s sense of community, they remain a close-knit group.
“Initially, I feel like everyone was very suspicious of each other,” Rittersbach said. “I mean we all know each other pretty well, we came to our senses and realized we wouldn’t do that to each other.”
Angel Garcia, assistant director of residence life for East Area, said he and his staff’s top priority is to ensure the safety and security of students. East Area residence life is trying to be more proactive with their approach and with communication with residents about the larcenies, not only through email, but in other ways as well.
“Every time I walk the halls (of Smith) and I see students, (I say), ‘Hey, make sure you lock your doors,’” Garcia said. “And sometimes when I play basketball with them, I say, ‘Make sure you do (lock your doors).’ We do two fire drills per semester. During fire drills, before they come back to their halls, I give them a speech and make sure to let them know that if they have any questions, they have me to come to. I think that community responsibility is the greatest of educational tools.”
Chuck Gantos, director of campus safety and police, said the police are doing what they can to help prevent further thefts from occurring.
“We’ve tried to increase the number of patrols in the area, and we’ve been canvassing locations that usually fence products that have been stolen to see if we can find anybody who has tried to move the stolen products,” Gantos said.
Garcia said he hopes students feel comfortable coming to him to talk about what’s going on. He also hopes that any student who has had something stolen will report it to campus security so it can have more clues to catch the culprit.
“I’d just like to find out who it was,” Rittersbach said.
The investigations are continuing, and students with information about the thefts are asked to contact campus security at (336) 278-5555.