Thefts of laptops, cellphones, and wallets occur frequently at places of high congregation. UTM has many such places, but one location, the library, seems to present an ideal environment to thieves. More thefts occur at the library than at any other location at UTM. From January 1 until March 5, Campus Police investigated 30 incidents of theft at UTM. Eleven of those occurred at the library.
Thefts are either planned by thieves, who set out to take what do not belong to them, or crimes of opportunity—unattended items that may sway the conscience of someone who would not otherwise steal. Thieves are community and non-community members, men and women alike. At the library, they operate at any hour it is open to the community.
It is heartbreaking to deal with students after they lose their belongings. Thefts make them feel violated and add stress and worry to their already busy lives. Laptops are expensive. A year’s worth of academic work, class notes, essays, and personal files compound the loss further. Cellphones are also dear to their owners. Contact numbers that were readily available are suddenly gone. Wallets, of course, have money, credit cards, and pieces of identification that are not easily replaced. Stolen credit cards have been used by thieves to buy goods and services elsewhere. Stolen identification can be used to commit fraud and identity theft.
Students need to be less trusting of the environment around them, not because UTM is not a safe community—it is—but thefts occur, either by design or by opportunity.There is no reason to panic but there is good reason to be vigilant.
At any place of congregation, have what is valuable to you within sight. Laptops are designed to be carried, so carry them. Wallets and cellphones fit nicely in pockets and portable bags, so keep them on your person. Why give a professional or a would-be thief an opportunity to wreak havoc on you?
Campus Police investigate all theft reports in a competent manner, but recovery of stolen items is expectantly low. You, as a community member, can assist by taking the simple step of watching over what is yours. This is a joint effort between the community of UTM and the Campus Police in its simplest and most effective form.
—Cpl. Charles Helewa