Phuong Nguyen —
The number of reported thefts on the Illinois College campus has increased by almost five times since last year and the end of the 2013-2014 academic year is still a month away. According to Director of Security Mark Lawson, the Security Department has received information about 19 stolen items so far in this school year. That statistic, in 2012-2013, was four.
“I find that shocking,” senior Kelly McCormick said. “In my 4 years at IC, I have never received so many emails about lost or stolen items like this year.”
From cell phones, iPads, laptops, cameras too a Nintendo system, a banner, display flags, cash, and artwork, property of individuals and student groups have been taken from residence rooms, offices, and public areas. Campus announcements have been filled with notifications, requests, and monetary rewards to get the stolen items back.
The Security Department receives information from owners of missing items and investigates to the extent of their ability. “But [we] usually do not get the results we would like,” Lawson said. “We always ask the students if they would like to file a police report and most do, when it is an expensive piece.”
The investigation process, if owners of the items pursue, could be exhausting and frustrating.
Senior Hannah Oak’s cell phone was taken out of her book bag in the Language Lab in Kirby Hall within a few minutes after she had stepped out of the room. “By the time I noticed it was missing, it was too late.” Hannah recalled. “I first had to talk to Campus Security and Residential Life because the phone was tracked to Ellis Hall. Then the local officials got involved and I had to talk with them over the course of a few days. When the phone was then tracked to Pike County, I had to restart the process with those law officials.” But even after the lengthy process, her phone was never returned.
Many have tried to offer cash reward for clues that could locate the missing items. Most of the times, even those rewards do not yield results. Campus Security officials advise students to never leave their belongings unattended in public areas, keep residence hall door locked, and keep valuables out of sight in your room and vehicle.
The financial loss is significant, but time and efforts invested in many of the stolen items, like a promotion banner or a student’s artwork, add even more to the loss.
Many worry that the campus is losing its vibe and reputation of safe community that it once had.
“In the past, I’ve always been able to leave my computer in a campus building for a few minutes and come back without being worried, McCormick added. “But now I feel like I can’t do that anymore.”
“I really hate that campus is changing,” Oak expressed with disappointment. But more than wanting my phone back, she wants the safety of her campus back.
The IC community is expressing stern disapproval of the unacceptable behaviors of behaviors of some of its members and helping to retrieve stolen items to the individuals. “It was awesome to know that we still have a supportive community that will stand against those who wrong,” Hannah added. “Countless friends and classmates expressed their concern and are ready to see this theft stop on campus.”