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Officials to investigate string of Bird library thefts

Adam Chen can no longer study at E.S. Bird Library with peace of mind. On Sept. 16, Chen’s backpack, containing his MacBook Pro, iPhone and class materials, was stolen.

After the incident, the senior psychology major immediately went to the Department of Public Safety to report the case, Chen said in an email. Surveillance camera images from the first floor exit captured the suspect leaving Bird Library with Chen’s items in tow, but the suspect has yet to be identified.

“There are at least 1 or 2 thefts at Bird Library a week, according to DPS crime logs. Just last week, I was present during a crime that took place at the Waverly entrance of Bird,” Chen said. “Bird Library definitely needs better security because of how prevalent the larceny has been.”

Bird Library security has been working in cooperation with DPS to increase security coverage to prevent further occurrences of theft, said Vernon Thompson, investigations and crime prevention commander for DPS.

Bird Library has cameras installed at the first floor exits and entrances to ensure optimal safety, said Thomas House, facilities and security coordinator at Bird Library. Bird Library is planning to install more cameras across all floors in the near future.

Anisha Chandran, a freshman in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, said she feels larceny has become such a problem because of the lack of cameras. Possible solutions could be signs advertising the use of cameras, or lockers for students to use when studying, Chandran said.

“We have 24-hour surveillance around and inside Bird Library, and have put in place crime prevention notices to educate individuals to watch belongings more securely,” Thompson said. “We have also been working with area law enforcement to track suspected perpetrators.”

Placing cameras in and around Bird Library doesn’t actually stop the theft from occurring, but it will document the criminal acts, Thompson said.

Despite the large signs warning students not to leave their items unattended near the entrances and exits of Bird Library, Jennifer Lundeen, a senior social work major, said she did not believe the library had an unsafe environment.

“When I’m studying at Bird, I often leave my stuff unattended for brief moments of time,” Lundeen said. “In the back of my mind, I know it’s probably a bad idea, but I figure that since I’ll be back shortly, nothing will happen.”

Bird Library is open to the public, making it difficult to keep an eye on every individual entering and exiting the building. Since these incidents happen so quickly, many of the librarians have been acting as extra supervisors for suspicious activity, House said.

“If you are stepping out for a moment, bring your items with you, or have a trusted friend watch them for you,” Thompson said.

Criminals are becoming more and more aware of where cameras are located and are exploiting this fact, Chen said. He has faith that DPS will recover his valuables, but now trusts no one at Bird Library.

“Installing more cameras seems to be the answer because it would prevent theft by alerting criminals they’re being watched, and it also helps provide footage for DPS in case a theft occurs,” he said. “Above all, use good sense and make sure your valuables are protected.”

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