A crime of opportunity

$6,000 equipment theft an unsurprising event, sources say

Marty Grainger, head of security at the university, says the campus crime rate is low compared to the rest of the downtown. In 2011, a total of 132 thefts were reported to campus security. Dylan Hewlett

On Jan. 15, two LCD projectors valued at approximately $3,000 each were stolen from a lecture hall at the University of Winnipeg.

Most AV equipment at the university is equipped with alarms that go off if it is tampered with, but this room was new enough to not have this security feature yet, said Marty Grainger, head of security at the university.

“Whenever we have a theft like this we take steps to make improvements to try to prevent these things from happening in the future,” said Grainger.

The thieves entered lecture hall 1L08 through an unlocked classroom door, Grainger said.

The room, which had been converted from two biology labs to a single lecture hall last year, was left unlocked for student access, said Grainger.

“We have an open campus. The unfortunate thing with an open campus is that we have people here who have thoughts of being able to steal items,” said Grainger.

Grainger estimates the equipment disappeared between 7 p.m. on Jan. 15 and 9:15 a.m. the next morning, when the projectors were reported missing.

Security measures following the break-in include increased patrolling and evaluation of when classrooms can be locked for the night, said Grainger.

The on-campus crime rate is low compared to the rest of the downtown area, Grainger said.

In 2011, a total of 132 thefts were reported to campus security. The annual number of thefts fluctuates, Grainger said.

In 2005, there was a record high of 146 thefts reported. In 2007, only 83 were reported.

Most thefts are crimes of opportunity, said Grainger.

Crimes can be avoided if students avoid leaving valuables unattended and take advantage of the Safewalk and Saferide programs offered by the university.

“I think one of our biggest problems is complacency,” said Grainger. “The programs are here for the students and staff and they have to take advantage of it.”

Dr. Kent Simmons, a biology professor whose class was relocated following the theft of the projectors, said he is not surprised the theft occurred.

“It happens on a not infrequent basis,” said Simmons.

The stolen projectors were replaced with a projector cart, he said. This was not an appropriate set-up for his class, so Simmons obtained a room change.

Kurtis Edginton, a fourth-year education student, said he feels safe on campus, but isn’t surprised at the nature of on-campus thefts.

“You can walk through the library and see various laptops sitting around with nobody watching them. It wouldn’t be that big of a surprise if something got stolen,” said Edginton.

Second-year student Paige Tibold said it’s the students’ responsibility to ensure their valuables stay safe.

“If I go to the washroom or something I say to whoever’s sitting next to me, can you watch my stuff. It’s your stuff, your responsibility,” she said.

Published in Volume 66, Number 19 of The Uniter (February 8, 2012)

Related Reads