Campus on Alert After Vandalism

The Phillips Academy campus is on alert after a string of recent thefts from students’ backpacks and faculty residences. In three seperate instances in the last three weeks, items have been stolen from student’s backpacks at the recent Luau dance, in George Washington Hall, and at the crew boathouse on the Merrimack River. In the first of the three incidents, over $150 cash was stolen from the backpacks of three students attending the annual PKN Luau dance three weekends ago. Custodians reported seeing three people, believed to be individuals from outside the Phillips Academy community, entering the Trophy room adjacent to the Borden Gym, ransacking the pile of backpacks, and then leaving. This was followed by a second incident the following weekend in which both a digital camera and calculator were stolen from a student’s backpack left in George Washington Hall. Commenting on the recent occurrences, Dean of Students and Residential Life Marlys Edwards explained that after the first report that the backpack was stolen, the missing bag was later found in a different location with the digital camera and calculator missing. After discussions with Cluster Presidents, Student Council President Allegra Asplundh-Smith and selected members of the faculty, Ms. Edwards decided to send an email to faculty and students last Friday. The e-mail message contained a set of pointed guidelines for students to practice and cautioned students to be thoughtful of their safety. Ms. Edwards said that the email was designed prevent unneccesary fear. Students just need to remember that the Andover campus is very accessible to the public and because of this students need to exercise caution,” she said. She added that “in addition to the fact that a major highway cuts across our campus, the Chapel, the Bird Sanctuary, athletic events, The Andover Inn, and the hockey rinks are all venues and events which people from the outside world enjoy and attend.” In addition to two on-campus thefts, an incident of backpack related thievery has also taken place off-campus. Last week, backpacks left on the Crew team’s buses at the Merrimack River boathouse were taken by unidentified local students into the surrounding woods. “They basically took as many backpacks as they could into the woods and stole most items of value,” said Girls’ Varsity Crew Coach Kathryn Green. Items reported stolen include a portable CD player and several wallets containing cash. A subsequent search of the woods revealed calculators and keys strewn all over the place. “Calculators and keys are items which are of no value to the kids that went through the backpacks,” Green said. “Because of this, they are discarded in a hasty search of items which they value such as wallets, watches, and music players.” “Such thievery usually takes place at least once every year,” Green explained. Members of the Crew teams have been asked to leave their backpacks inside the boathouse, rather than on the parked buses, which are locked while the boats are on the river. “Although we’ve never seen them in action, we’ve definitely seen local kids lurking around our boathouse,” continued Green. All three incidents have been reported to the Andover Police Department. Ms. Edwards said that “students just need to realize that we don’t live in a bubble.” Not an exception to this recent wave of theft, the homes of faculty have been subject to thievery as well. “There have been a couple of incidents where faculty members have had stuff stolen from their homes,” said Edwards. This, however, is partly due to the fact that many members of the faculty fail to lock their doors. “Many faculty members have lived here for as long as thirty years and are accustomed to a time when doors could always be left open,” said Edwards. “People need to realize that times have changed.” Despite the fact that several cases of theft have taken place this year and more particularly, this term alone, theft at Andover remains at the same level it has been at for the past couple of years and is not following an upward trend.