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Thousands of dining hall items stolen yearly

Molly Lamping | Monday, May 1, 2006

Whether due to accidentally walking out of the dining hall with a cup of ice cream and a spoon or “borrowing” a tray to go sledding in the winter, more than 38,000 items were stolen from North and South Dining Halls this year, Director of Notre Dame Food Services Dave Prentkowski said.

That’s 3,500 blue bowls, 2,000 brown bowls, 900 dessert plates, 2,000 dinner plates, 3,500 cups, 12,000 spoons, 8,000 forks and 7,000 knives.

While these losses are certainly substantial, they do not come as a shock to many students.

“It’s not surprising that so much is stolen,” sophomore Pat Tennant said. “It’s tempting to take silverware or bowls, and there’s not much there to stop people.”

The replacement cost for the items stolen this year totals approximately $25,000, Prentkowski said.

“I guess I never realized how much it can add up,” freshman Martha Calcutt said. “I’ve never really thought twice about a few spoons here, a few cups there.”

And theft has increased in recent years, Prentkowski said.

“It could be related to our new policy of allowing book bags into the dining rooms so they [won’t] be stolen from the lobby areas,” he said. “Monitors are stationed at the exits and frequently ‘remind’ students that permanent ware is not to be removed. Some students seem annoyed by this, [but] some understand.”

In order to decrease the replacement cost for next year, Food Services will be placing boxes at both dining halls and in some of the dorms during finals week to retrieve “borrowed” items. While this may help, typically only about one percent of stolen items are returned to Food Services, Prentkowski said.

While some students feel that because they pay for room and board they should be entitled to take what they please from the dining halls, Prentkowski said he wants to remind students “costs increase every year as the costs of the lost items increase.”

“In anticipation of this loss we are required to submit a higher than desired expense budget,” he said. “Room and board fees must be increased to cover this.”