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NDSP reports wave of thefts

Sheila Flynn | Monday, February 23, 2004

The Notre Dame campus has fallen victim to a wave of thefts since students returned from winter break, University security officials said last week.On four separate dates, beginning Jan. 25 and continuing through February, students have reported stolen belongings from the Hesburgh Library and the South Dining Hall lobby, said Chuck Hurley, assistant director of Notre Dame Security Police.”These thefts are occurring while students are leaving book bags unattended while using the restroom or [visiting] vending machines,” Hurley said of the library thefts, and the items robbed from South Dining Hall have disappeared while unattended in the lobby. He said no thefts have been reported from dorms or at North Dining Hall, where students are allowed to bring personal items with them into the dining area.”We’ll talk to the dining halls and see what they can help with,” said Rex Rakow, director of Notre Dame Security/Police. He said discussions would most likely take place after Junior Parents Weekend because most directors and staff members were kept busy with the scheduled events and preparations.Such crime waves have occurred before, and Hurley said that, in the past, investigations into the thefts have indicated that people outside of the University have been responsible. In this most recent situation, there is no evidence to indicate whether the culprit is working from inside or outside of the Notre Dame community.”I would like to think that it’s not an internal problem, but I have no evidence to qualify my statement,” Hurley said.And if the problem is internal, Rakow said, it is harder to spot.”The officers … know the reports and what the trends are,” Hurley said, and “they certainly look out for what’s happening.”But if items are being stolen by members within the community, however, it is more difficult for officers to identify them as the thieves, Rakow said.”Students look like students,” he said.Both Rakow and Hurley stressed diligence on the part of members of the University community until the security department establishes, if possible, more efficient measures or apprehends those responsible.”I think students need to be diligent and aware of who’s messing around with book bags and who looks out of place,” Rakow said.Despite the recent theft trend, however, students remained unconcerned in South Dining Hall Sunday.”I haven’t had any problems,” sophomore Jessica Voss said, adding that the only item of value she leaves in the lobby of South is her calculator. Freshman Justin Smith echoed Voss’s opinions.”I, personally, don’t keep anything valuable in the stuff I leave here,” he said. He said it would be nice if students did not have to worry about their belongings disappearing while they ate, but Voss expressed a more resigned view.”People steal everywhere,” Voss said.