Library Thefts Cause Increased Safety Patrol

Last week, students were greeted with a set of alarming signs on the library doors, reading: “Please bring your bags into the library. We have recently had thefts in this area. Please let a librarian know immediately if you notice anyone who seems suspicious.” The signs were prompted by a string of laptop thefts from the library lobby on April 29, 30 and most recently, May 10. At the moment, there are no suspects for the multiple thefts, though it is possible that the cases are related, said Public Safety Manager Thomas Conlon. Phillips Academy Public Safety responded to the thefts by alerting the library staff. Elisabeth Tully, Director of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library, made the decision to post the signs in the hopes that students would be less inclined to use the library lobby as a dumping ground for backpacks and other personal belongings. PAPS has begun patrolling the library more frequently, especially on the weekends. Library staff members have also been instructed to pay particular attention to the presence of unfamiliar faces. As Conlon put it, students’ sense of security has been violated. “As a community, we feel very comfortable and safe, which may be the reason so many students feel comfortable leaving valuables unattended in public places on campus,” he said. Erica Morales-Jobse ’11 was a victim of one of the recent thefts. On April 30, after getting extensive repairs to her laptop earlier that day, she forgot her bag in the library lobby. The next morning, when she went to retrieve the bag, she found it open, with wires hanging out and laptop and battery missing. Her first instinct was to talk to the librarians and the PACC staff, but none had seen her laptop. Eventually, she filed a report with PAPS, who in turn, filed a report with Andover police. Since the theft, Jobse has become more conscious about leaving her belongings unattended and now carries her bags with her at all time. She said, “It’s okay to leave books, but [students shouldn’t] leave laptops, iPods, wallets [unattended].” Last Friday, Alayna Garbarino ’10 accidently left her bag overnight in the library lobby. Garbarino said, “I usually don’t carry around money with me, but I had been saving up for a [softball] bat.” The following morning, she found her bag, but all of her money that had been inside was missing. For Tully, this has been the first incident of its kind in all her seven years at Andover. Following the laptop theft in the Shuman Admissions Building in November, Conlon said, there was a person of note arrested in relation to a similar case at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. This weekend the signs were taken down, after Tully noticed that students were not changing any behavior. Backpacks were still piled in the library lobby, full of valuables including textbooks, phones and iPods. Though many students have repeatedly left belongings in public places without problem, several other students were not so lucky Lucy Maguire ’08 had her backpack stolen last fall, only to be returned weeks later with only her textbooks inside, missing her laptop and wallet. Audrey Adu-Appiah ’10, who recently had her umbrella stolen from the library lobby, described the experience as “annoying and inconsiderate.” “I didn’t think that would be a problem here. It was such a huge inconvenience,” she said. The best and most effective way to prevent theft is to avoid giving thieves easy opportunities. Conlon advised students to not leave their belongings unattended in campus buildings. He continued, “[PAPS] tries our best to prevent theft, but we need people’s cooperation.”