The number of reports of stolen items in academic buildings decreased from 298 to 245 in the last two years, Temple Police reported.
“Theft is the most common because it’s a crime of opportunity,” said Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone. He added that electronics were the most common personal belonging that was stolen.
In situations of theft, TUPD takes the affected student’s information, checks to see if there’s any security camera footage and attempts to narrow down a possible suspect.
Although on-campus theft has decreased, some students who have been victims of the crime said they struggled to receive the support they wanted from Campus Safety Services.
Senior neuroscience major Trina Van had her laptop stolen during a homecoming event in Fall 2017. Van, who was vice president of Main Campus Program Board at the time, left it in a multipurpose room in the Student Center while attending a celebratory event in a different room.
“It really broke my heart because it was in the middle of a celebration,” Van said. “It’s not like they stole $20 worth of property. We’re talking thousands of dollars.”
After she traced a location ping on her laptop, Van said she contacted TUPD to help investigate its Chestnut Hill location, but it was “too far” away for them to retrieve the item. TUPD patrols the area between Susquehanna Avenue and Jefferson Street, ending at 18th Street to the west and 9th Street to the east. After Jefferson Street, TUPD officers patrol up to Girard Avenue between Broad and 13th streets.
“I understand theft isn’t always their top priority, but people shouldn’t get away with this without facing the consequences,” Van said.
Theft is not as common in classrooms as it is in larger, more open areas, Leone said. Places like Paley Library and the Student Center are often crowded with students during the week, which makes it easier for unattended goods to be stolen.
“Most of the stuff that is taken is unattended property,” Leone said. “People will plug phones in anywhere. You can walk down a hall in a building and see a phone plugged in, but no one is there. It makes it very easy for people to take things.”
With technology increasingly becoming a necessity on a college campus, the expense of theft rises.
“Once upon a time, the biggest issue you would have was people stealing your books,” Leone said. “Now, they’re taking $600 worth of property for the same amount of effort.”
One of Campus Safety’s Risk Reduction and Advocacy Services’ programs specifically aims at reducing the number of thefts of unattended property by reminding students what could happen to their belongings if they are left alone.
About five student workers are paid by TUPD to serve as risk reduction specialists, leaving notes on unguarded possessions that read, “Remember: Do not leave your belongings unattended.” The members wait until the student returns and then educate them on the importance of watching over their things.
Leone encouraged students to call TUPD if there is any sign of suspicious activity.
“We always prefer if you call,” he said. “If you notice someone walk back and forth a few times eyeing up unattended property, give us a call.”
Sophomore education major Alejandro Martinez had an experience with theft in January 2017.
“My mom mailed me a letter that had a keychain and a $50 gift card in it,” Martinez said. “When I went to the mailslot, the letter had been ripped open and the gift card was stolen.”
The mailslot, which was located inside his 1940 Residence Hall, could only be accessed with a padlock code. Martinez said that the front desk at 1940 Residence Hall told him to file a report to Temple Police, which he did immediately. He has not heard back from them since with any updates.
Leone said theft within residence halls is often done by roommates.
He added that since the university implemented stricter OWLcard rules, like swiping to enter a building, the rate of theft has gone down.
“I can’t say if [these rules] are directly the reason why, but the numbers are there,” Leone said.