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Wave of thefts at SDH continues

Kate Gales | Friday, March 19, 2004

The recent thefts in South Dining Hall have continued, as NDSP reported that two backpacks were stolen from the lobby Wednesday night.In a Feb. 23 article in The Observer, officials from Notre Dame Security/Police described a wave of thefts occurring at the Hesburgh Library and South Dining Hall.”There had been kind of a dropoff, but that isn’t to say that [the perpetrators] have completely stopped,” NDSP Assistant Director Phil Johnson said. He said that the investigation into the crimes would continue.”Between Feb. 23 and now, students were on break for a week, and that period was relatively quiet,” Johnson said. “[Wednesday], we had two cases where bookbags were taken at the South Dining Hall.”NDSP has taken steps to protect students and their property.”At the library, for example, we’ve encouraged people not to leave their materials unattended,” Johnson said. He said that NDSP, as well as students, would “work with library staff to be on the alert for suspicious activity.”The SafeWalk organization, a group that escorts students back to their dormitory rooms late at night, is also on the alert for irregular behavior.”If you look at the kind of crime that occurs on campus,” said Johnson, “the most common is larceny, or theft, and it’s almost always of unattended property.”For security reasons, Johnson declined to give specifics of the ongoing investigation. He said that some items have been recovered and returned to their owners, but encouraged students to report all thefts to the NDSP.”We’d really still like to know about these crimes so we have an accurate picture of what’s going on [around] campus and know how to assign resources,” he said.Johnson emphasized the importance of students monitoring their personal belongings.”The first line of defense among community members is to keep track of their property,” he said. He also encouraged students to report strange behavior. “If you’re going around campus and see suspicious activity, think things aren’t right, give us a call.”At South Dining Hall, students leave their belongings unattended outside, providing criminals with easy targets. Few choose to take advantage of the free lockers available downstairs.”Obviously people feel very safe, which is a great thing, but why leave temptation for people?” Johnson said.He also noted that many students do not lock the doors of their dorm rooms – another place valuables are stored.”People who lose their ID, wallet or credit cards have to be aware of having the information used for identity theft or financial fraud crimes,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t mean that it will be used, but the possibility exists.”