On Feb. 13, the USF Department of Public Safety (DPS) alerted students and faculty via email to a string of recent thefts on campus, calling for increased supervision of valuables as a result.
The email referred to two thefts. One of which took place on Feb. 9, where a laptop was stolen from the University Center, and the other taking place four days later, on Feb. 13.
“Computers were stolen and are replaceable, but at a cost,” said Senior Director to the DPS, Daniel Lawson, in reference to the estimated $400 to $950 worth of computers stolen from the Harney Science Center.
Public Safety has since reviewed CCTV digital data and have captured photos of the two suspects from which officers have created an internal bulletin providing the description of the suspects.
According to Lawson, one suspect near campus has since been detained and arrested. “Increased patrol in the areas targeted resulted in this detention and arrest,” he said.
Although both cases are still underinvestigation, the second suspect remains at large. Public Safety wants the campus community to feel safe and know how to take precautionary measures to protect themselves and their property.
Because the victims do not fit a specific profile, it makes the job of Public Safety officers harder to prevent these types of crimes. However, according to Lawson, opportunists do know that valuable technical equipment can be found at academic institutions such as USF as well as business buildings.
As a result, officers conduct over 25,000 building walk throughs every year, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
Staci Hoell, an assistant to DPS explained that a great way for students to be aware of the thefts that have taken place at USF is to visit the crime log, located on the Public Safety website.
“On the USF website, DPS updates a daily crime log, where crimes and thefts are committed,” Hoell said. “Students are able to visit [the website] to see when and where the crimes were committed, as well as what was stolen.”
“The crime bulletin was the first step to remind our community that these crimes can be prevented and never to leave property of value unsecured,” stated Lawson.
Unfortunately, many students are unaware of the log’s existence.
“I had somewhat of an idea that USF had to keep track of all the crimes and thefts committed at USF, but I had no idea that that information was open to students,” said senior Hannah Bunting.
Sophomore Quinta Addis was also astonished that USF kept a public log of crimes.
“We deserve to know what’s going on on our campus, both good and bad,” said Addis.
Although emails are sent out and the crime log is updated daily, students are not always notified of every crime that takes place at USF. When asked why, Lawson stated, “We are required by the Department of Education to advise our community of only certain crimes and burglaries.”
However, if an imminent threat, such as a rape suspect, were to risk the safety of the USF community, students and staff would be notified immediately. Smaller crimes are of less of a threat, and thus not immediately reported.
“Crimes of opportunity (i.e. thefts) are much more common and less of an immediate threat to our community,” said Lawson. “However, we still make every effort to inform our community of these events as soon as investigation deems our community need for notification.”
Not only does DPS do all that they can to prevent and solve theft, they also provide support for victims of theft as well as advise students on how to prevent theft from happening to them.
“We provide investigation into the theft and transport for victims to the local police station so they might report crimes to the local police agency (SFPD),” stated Lawson.
If the suspect of a crime is apprehended and a trial is to be conducted, the DPS provides transport and an escort to the trial if requested by the victim.
In order to prevent theft, DPS suggests that students remain aware of their surroundings and to never leave articles of value unattended or unsecured.
“Report people acting suspiciously, looking into offices and classrooms without appearing to have any official business on campus,” suggests Lawson.