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Scott Strasser

Theft spikes in University of Calgary library, locker rooms

By Scott Strasser, March 29 2016 —

Theft at the University of Calgary has spiked recently, particularly in the kinesiology complex and the Taylor Family Digital Library.

Campus Security sent out a community advisory email on March 23 informing students of the increase in theft and urging them to ensure their belongings are protected.   

“There may be somebody coming onto campus that we haven’t picked up on, coming here uninvited for the sole purpose of removing property,” said Chief of Campus Security Brian Sembo.

While thefts have occurred across campus, the TFDL and the changing rooms in the kinesiology complex are where most incidents have been reported. Items reported stolen include laptops, wallets, purses, cellphones and backpacks.

According to Sembo, there have been 19 reported thefts from changing room lockers in 2016, with 12 falling in the first three weeks of March. Sembo said the women’s change room has seen the most incidents.

“These are crimes of opportunity,” Sembo said. “People are coming by, noticing the door’s open and taking whatever they can get their hands on.”

As a result of the thefts, Campus Security has increased patrols through campus and is reviewing CCTV camera footage in high-risk areas to try and detect crime patterns. Posters have also been placed around campus — particularly in the TFDL — to remind students to keep their belongings secured.

Associate university librarian Claudette Cloutier said the TFDL has seen an increase in reported thefts since January. She said thefts could be due to students leaving their study spaces unattended for long periods of time.

“If you wander through our building, you’ll notice people aren’t necessarily as protective of their personal belongings,” Cloutier said. “I know study spaces are at a premium and they don’t want to give up a space they might have. But they need to take their belongings with them or leave them with a friend so they’re not making themselves vulnerable to a crime of opportunity.”

Sembo advised students to report suspicious activity.

“It may seem insignificant at the time, but if there’s anything suspicious, call us,” Sembo said. “We’d rather come check it out and find there’s nothing going on than miss out on the opportunity to catch someone doing these crimes.”

While most items reported stolen have not been significantly valuable, Sembo said there have also been a few reports of bike theft — an issue Campus Security deals with every spring.

“The weather has gotten better, so we’ve had a few bikes reported stolen,” Sembo said. “The types of bike lock being used may not match the quality of the bike.”

According to Campus Security’s most recent quarterly report, there were 20 incidents of on-campus bike theft last semester.

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