Police investigate alleged thefts at science center

University Police is investigating a string of thefts reported from the Hall of Sciences Center and the Molecular and Life Sciences Center.

On March 9, students and faculty reported seven incidents of possible theft to police, including four wallets, from the two science buildings.

The most recent incident took place on March 11, when a student discovered her wallet stolen at the MLSC. This brings the total number of possible thefts in those buildings to eight.

University detectives are actively investigating two of the thefts, Lt. Richard Goodwin from the university police department said.

“Not everyone is pressing charges,” Goodwin said. “Of the ones pressing charges, we are investigating [both].”

The items stolen included credit cards, debit cards and a large amount of cash. Goodwin said that one victim had her green card and her social security card in her wallet when it was taken.

“We can’t do anything about the cash because it’s untraceable, but with the credit cards, we have records to look into,” Goodwin said.

Stolen property is an ongoing problem across the campus, but the science buildings have seen very little theft until recently, Goodwin said.

Some faculty members are considering taking extra precautions to prevent thefts of equipment and personal property.

James McKibben, the director of the Science Leaning Center in the Hall of Sciences, said he was concerned about the recent thefts.

“I’m surprised there aren’t more thefts of cellphones and wallets,” MicKibben said.

McKibben said that although no equipment or personal belongs have been stolen from the Learning Center, he said that he has caught students stealing money from the donation box.

“There’s been two or three occasions over the last year,” McKibben said. “It’s very frustrating.”

To prevent thefts, McKibben said that he might need to install security cameras in the center, which houses aquarium tanks, terrariums, microscopes and other biological equipment. McKibben said that 8,000 people are expected to visit the Learning Center over the academic year, and he and his volunteers cannot be there to watch all of them.

Other members of the science department say that the thefts would not be a problem if people would pay more attention to their belongings.

“I’ve seen a laptop left in woman’s bathroom,” Dessie Underwood, the interim chair of the biology department, said. “People do that all the time.”

A number of thefts occurred in faculty offices in the science buildings, which are often kept open, sometimes without anyone present. McKibben said that the science buildings are not equipped with any security cameras.

“There is a sense of security you have in your own office,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin said that students and faculty need to keep their valuables in their sight and their offices locked when they are not present in order to prevent further thefts.

At this point in the investigation, it is not known if any of the thefts are related. He described these as crimes of opportunity, which happen when people leave their belongings unattended, Goodwin said.

“Because we are a safe campus, there can be a false sense of security, but it does not negate the need for people to keep an eye on their possessions,” Goodwin said.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Daily 49er newsletter