More thefts over spring break

By Bethany Reinhart

During Columbia’s spring break, a time that security throughout campus buildings was to be tightened, an office affiliated with the Shop Columbia store, located in the Wabash Campus Building, 623 S. Wabash Ave., was burglarized, and items totaling an estimated $2,000 were stolen, said Shop Columbia coordinator Anna Mary LeBlanc.

LeBlanc said the items stolen were a Mac laptop and a Cannon digital camera that were property of the college.

Robert Koverman, associate vice president of Campus Safety and Security, said both items were stolen from the same office.

“They were stolen from one office, and [the door has] just a standard key-and-knob lock,” he said. “[The items] were stolen somewhere between three days. They were last seen on the 24th of March, and they were reported missing on the 26th of March. So, there is a three day period where we’re not sure when they were stolen.”

LeBlanc, however, said she believes the incident was not limited to the single Shop Columbia office from which the computer and camera were stolen.

“It wasn’t just a Shop Columbia sort of thing,” LeBlanc said. “It was more a Columbia sort of thing because there were some other offices in the building that had things stolen from them, like power cords to computers and things like that.”

Neither Koverman nor LeBlanc would comment on whether the incident was being investigated as possible internal theft. Koverman confirmed the increase in thefts on campus but would not comment on whether the incidents were related.

“I am not going to make any presumptions whether they are internal or external, but I will say that we are in the midst of a major investigation into these thefts and we are confident that we are going to reach some kind of resolution,” Koverman said.

Both Koverman and LeBlanc said incident reports were filled out the morning the items were discovered missing.

LeBlanc said she is aware that theft on campus has been a growing concern but was surprised by the recent incident.

“[It] is really kind of baffling [because during] … spring break … there was much more security and kind of lockdown to begin with,” she said. “They were checking IDs everywhere you went. You had to sign into the building. I know that, in general, this specific semester, security has gotten a lot tighter.”

The Shop Columbia office theft is just one example of a growing problem of theft on campus. Alicia Berg, vice president of Campus Environment, said there has been a general increase in concern about theft on Columbia’s campus throughout the past several years.

“I think oftentimes concerns follow a spade on incidents, which we have had,” she said.

Berg said she thinks the poor economy has played a role in rising number of thefts on campus but that the administration is making immediate security enhancements to help curb the problem.

“We are committed to making a safe and secure environment for our students, faculty and staff,” Berg said. “Along with delivering a quality education, I would say it is one of our top priorities for the college.”