Grand Theft MRU II: Lockers
Students might want to think twice about leaving valuables in their lockers
“Someone must have been watching me,” said Lexi Wright, first-year journalism student. “There’s no other way someone would’ve known to break into my locker and no one else’s.”
Wright left her MacBook Pro laptop inside her locker in I hallway for about an hour and a half to attend a class earlier this year. When she came back, the lock was missing and her laptop was gone.
“I freaked out,” she explains. “I called my friend, who I share a locker with, just to make sure she didn’t take it. I knew she probably hadn’t, but I didn’t know what to do.”
Wright says she then went to campus security, who told her that the lock seemed to be cut off. They also explained to Wright that there were no cameras in that location of the school, and there was nothing they could do to help her.
The laptop, Wright explains, was brand new. It was a Christmas gift from her parents, who had saved up to buy it for her.
Wright says she then decided to go onto MRU confessions, in hopes that someone would’ve seen something and could help her find her missing laptop.
“When I posted it on the confessions page it just blew up,” explains Wright. “Everyone was like, ‘Who is this missing laptop girl?’ This guy started a fund and raised like $850 for me, which was amazing. I donated $200 to mental health.”
Wright used the remaining to buy a new laptop.
“I couldn’t afford a MacBook with it, but I bought an Acer. I figure no one will steal an Acer anyways,” Wright laughs.
She says she’s thankful for all the students that helped her, with an additional appreciation to professors who also stepped in financially.
However, Wright isn’t the first student who has experienced locker theft. Paul Coates, who is a photojournalism instructor in the Faculty of Communications, says that since Wright was stolen from, another student has come to him and told him that their camera had been stolen from a locker in the gym.
“Although Utopian in nature, I believe that all students should demand a ‘no theft zone’ on campus policy,” says Coates.
“Students work hard to get accepted into programs, pay tuition, they work hard make ends meet and, in our program, have to purchase camera and audio gear. The loss of equipment and laptops is a severe financial and emotional burden,” explains Coates.
Currently there aren’t any guidelines for students who experience theft on campus. Students aren’t notified prior to renting a locker on which areas have cameras and which ones do not. There is no insurance on the lockers or reimbursements available.
Peter Davison, Security Manager, says that the reason that there is no insurance is probably due to the university not being able to find an insurance company that would be willing to put insurance on lockers. He also explains that not telling students where on campus there aren’t cameras is actually a security precaution.
“We don’t actually disclose that information,” explains Davison. “We present the illusion that there are a lot of cameras [on campus], so we don’t publicise areas that are not, simply because we don’t want people to actually start targeting those areas.”
Davison outlines that whenever security reports are filed, they increase patrols in those areas.
“Most of the locker thefts we’ve investigated here, it’s very obvious that somebody has sat and watched items being put into the locker. You’ll have a bank of 30 lockers and only one or two of them will be open. Of course, these two will be the ones with a Mac Pro or something fairly expensive.”
Davison explains that while security cameras aren’t relatively expensive, the installation of them is.
“Cameras run anywhere from $2,500 to $4000 just for the camera, but then all of the back wiring and stuff, the networking of it becomes quite expensive.”
If a camera is really close to a security panel then the expenses aren’t that great, says Davison. However, if they have to run hundreds of metres of cable for cameras in areas that are far from security panels, then the cost is steep.
By June he says he hopes that the entire functioning of the cameras will be more efficient. One of the upgrades is that cameras will be motion-sensitive.
Davison says he’s hoping to install more cameras in areas that don’t have any, as well as update some of the older cameras in the university. A cheaper alternative that security could consider, according to Davison, is the installation of fake cameras that give the illusion that they’re recording when they aren’t. This means that potential thieves would have to take the risk of being caught on tape.
In the meantime, however, students that are victims of theft, like Wright, are left empty-handed.
One option could be a fund, or an insurance program, created by the Students’ Association, which would provide security for students that have experienced theft.
In response, the Executive Team of the Students’ Association says that they’re, “always open to ideas from students and we look forward to seeing what follow-up comes from The Reflector article.”
Currently students can find warnings and alerts on the security website and blog. However, Davison says that both aren’t very user-friendly. According to Davison, they’ve been re-vamping the website and blog so that it will be.
“We’ve been working diligently in the last month trying to get it to a new level so that it’s actually usable for people and it’s actually got valuable information on it.”
Their aim is that eventually both website and blog will be as efficient as the University of Calgary’s says Davison.
Davison says that his main point of advice for students now is to avoid putting valuables in their lockers.
“Don’t put your wallets or electronics in your lockers. The locks are suitable for keeping people out, but not people that want to be in.”