Laptop Thefts Hit New South

Two Computers Reported Stolen in Two-Week Period

By Tim Haggerty Hoya Staff Writer

“It wasn’t very pleasing to come back to this situation,” Hsiang Chang (SFS ’02) said of his return to his New South dorm room after winter break. Chang’s computer was stolen from his room during break, the first of two New South computer thefts reported over a two-week period. The second theft took place Saturday.

Chang said he left his computer on his roommate’s bed over the break and that the desktop personal computer, including a monitor, speakers, keyboard and mouse, was taken. His printer was not stolen.

The second theft occurred Saturday in Melanie Wood’s (COL ’02) fourth floor New South room. The room was unoccupied and unlocked for a period of about 90 minutes, she said. She said she noticed her Winbook laptop computer was gone when she returned to her room Saturday night shortly before 9 p.m.

In both cases, the thefts were immediately reported to the Department of Public Safety, who took reports. The 2nd District Metro Police also responded to both thefts and took their own reports. Both DPS and Metro have said there are no leads in either case.

“The chances are slim that his [Chang’s] computer will be recovered because he did not know serial number or even the brand name,” Bussey said.

In Wood’s case, DPS Spokesman Sgt. Gilbert Bussey said that the room had been unoccupied and unlocked intermittently from 2:45 p.m. until the computer was discovered missing. He said that the laptop was “out in the open,” purchased in December 1997 and valued at $2000.

Timing the theft of Chang’s computer is more problematic, Bussey said, noting that Chang was the last to leave the room on Dec. 22 and the first to arrive on Jan. 11.

Chang said he was “certain” that he locked his door when he left the room and that “probably someone who came into my room left it unlocked.” He said he knew workers would be in the room while he was gone.

Bussey said the room was unlocked, constituting a security violation, on Jan. 1. During a routine dorm inspection, which DPS performs during vacation, Officer Wright found the door unlocked. Bussey said a security reminder was left for the residents and the door was secured. He said that there was no sign of forced entry. Wright looked over the room but “had no way of knowing what was in the room when the occupants left.”

Bussey also said that with the construction workers in all of the rooms, “It is a known fact that they will probably pilfer things.” But, he added, “DPS officers were there at all times to try to deter theft.”

Bussey and Detective Bell of the 2nd District etro Police both explained that the primary way to pursue the investigation involves the stolen computers’ serial numbers.

Wood said that she had not yet given the numbers to DPS but would be doing so within the next few days. In turn, Bussey said DPS would give the numbers to the 2nd District Metro Police detectives’ department.

“We try to get students to record serial numbers [because the numbers can be checked at pawn shops] and even repair shops in California,” Bell said. “Sometimes the thieves will carry the items onto the streets or be stopped in motor vehicles with computer equipment that they cannot account for.”

Bell and Bussey also emphasized the importance of taking security precautions. Bell said, “It is important for students to report to us, or the campus police, any suspicious people when it seems that they shouldn’t be there,” Bell said. “It may even turn out that we can link them to missing equipment.”

Bussey stressed other safety precautions, saying, “Unless you have a witness, there is a very low probability that anything will be recovered. That is why we stress so stringently to secure those commodities [laptop computers]. . If you have them lying out in the open, someone will take it.”

He pointed to the fact that Wood’s roommate’s laptop was not stolen, because it was secured in a closet, while Wood’s was in plain view.

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