Suspects in Laptop Theft Ring Caught; Investigation Ongoing
Published: Friday, March 18, 2011
Updated: Saturday, March 19, 2011 12:03
The Department of Public Safety apprehended three members of an alleged laptop theft ring in Lauinger Library on Tuesday evening.
According to Sgt. David Ruiz, DPS was called to the fifth floor of the library at around 8 p.m. by a student who saw two men rummaging through the backpacks of students who had temporarily left their seats.
One of the two men had gained access to the library illegally, and neither is affiliated with the university, Ruiz said. One of the men entered the library along with a woman, who is also not connected to the university. Both entered by showing their identifications. According to Ruiz, the woman then let the second man, who did not have identification, into the library through an off-limits door. The two men went to the fifth floor and the woman left Lauinger.
"During the interview following their apprehension it was revealed that one of the suspects was let in by someone [else]," Ruiz said. "They had a knowledge of the location, obviously."
Ruiz added that it is unclear if there are more suspects in the alleged ring. Security Officer Patricia Watkins recognized the woman, who she had seen in the library on Monday around the time that a laptop was stolen, and also alerted DPS. Ruiz and two officers then detained the two men in the library and caught up to the woman on 37th and Prospect Streets.
All three suspects were apprehended, and the man who had entered the library illegally was arrested and charged with unlawful entry. All three have been barred from campus, Ruiz said. None of the suspects were arrested for and charged with theft, however, as none were carrying stolen materials at the time of the apprehension.
Ruiz said that the apprehension was the result of an ongoing investigation, but also praised students for being proactive and calling DPS to report suspicious activity.
In a statement on the department's website, DPS Associate Director Joseph Smith wrote that officers dressed in plain clothes have been monitoring activity in the library. Ruiz commented on students' reaction to the stepped up presence.
"Surveillance has been ongoing and we've been vigilantly patrolling. Students are aware of that and taking their laptops with them," Ruiz said, later adding, "DPS has also witnessed students taking their laptops with them for security purposes."
According to Ruiz, the investigation was launched in November after a string of laptop thefts occurred in the library. Forty-six thefts occurred in the library in the fall semester. This semester, five laptops have been stolen, four of them this month and one in February. No thefts were reported in January.