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Laptop, purse thefts hit Regenstein Library

Photo: Chris Salata/The Chicago Maroon
A recent string of laptop thefts at the Regenstein Library has prompted library administration to issue warnings about leaving valuables unattended.

Three laptops and a purse were stolen at Regenstein Library during a five-day period from January 19–23.

“I was studying in the cubicles on the third floor and left my belongings to go to the stacks to find a book,” said second-year Jill Sachs, whose purse was stolen on January 21. “When I returned a few minutes later, my purse was gone, and the rest of my belongings were still there.”

Sachs immediately called the University Police (UCPD). With her cell phone in the stolen purse, Sachs gave the UCPD her roommate’s cell phone number as a contact, and she received a call some days later from a detective who said he was pursuing a suspect.

Sachs described the theft—which occurred the day before her birthday—as “really disappointing. When you’re at a university, you expect and want a support network,” she said.

James Vaughan, assistant director of Access and Facilities for the library, echoed Sachs’s sentiments. “Students think because they have to enter with an ID that they’re immune from things like this,” he said. “When you leave your belongings unattended, the opportunity is there for someone dishonest to steal them.”

No particular group of students was targeted, Vaughan said, adding that the victims had left their belongings briefly unattended on the library’s second, third, fourth, and fifth floors.

Vaughan called the high number of thefts in such a short time span “very unusual,” and said he could not recall a previous crime pattern of this nature.

In response, Vaughan posted signs throughout the library reminding students “to keep belongings with them at all times and to use laptop locks and library lockers.”

Vaughan said the library urges students to file a police report with the UCPD, adding that library officials keep track of these reports and send them to various University administrators, such as the dean of students.

The only failed robbery occurred January 22, when a student who had left her belongings unattended returned to find someone trying to steal her laptop. The student asked the offender what he was doing, at which point he returned the computer to her and left the building. The student called UCPD and gave a description of the offender, who has not been apprehended.

“The UCPD are taking measures to apprehend whoever has been involved in these incidents,” said Rudy Nimocks, executive director of the UCPD.

“I advise that people not leave laptops unattended ever,” Nimocks said. He recommended that laptop owners use a stop tag—a bar code sticker meant to deter a thief from stealing a laptop for resale. Nimocks described stop tags, which can be obtained from the UCPD, as “extremely successful” and said no laptops with tags have ever been reported stolen.

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