Approximately 20 thefts have been reported since the beginning of the school year, according to Chuck Roberts, security patrols supervisor. The majority of the crimes occurred in first-year residence dormitories, especially Lehman and Williams Halls.
Bicycles, wallets, compact discs and backpacks are among the items that have been reported missing in the past few weeks.
“Most of the items were taken from student housing areas, rooms or suites and also storage areas,” Roberts said. A few reports turned out to be erroneous, but most of the stolen items have not been returned.
“Based on ongoing investigations to date, there is no specific time when thefts occur,” Roberts said. “What is noticeable is that in almost all cases these have been thefts of opportunity. By this we mean, for example, bicycles are not locked up in rackrooms, which are left unattended with doors open.”
When asked if Security investigations have uncovered any suspects, Roberts said, “At this point, I’ll simply state that the investigations are continuing and we have numerous leads and follow-ups to continue to work on.”
The Williamstown Police Department (WPD) is always notified after a theft is reported to Security. The victimized student is instructed to place a call to the WPD in the presence of Security. Arthur Parker, chief of WPD, said that once an article is reported stolen, it is given a complaint number and entered in the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) database – a catalog of all items stolen across the nation. If an item is recovered anywhere, it will be returned to the rightful owner. However, if there are no leads in the case not much can be done.
Emily Steinhagen ’04, said that her wallet was stolen after she left it in a common room overnight. Her ID, driver’s license, credit card, laundry debit card and cash were all taken; the ID was found in the dorm’s laundry room later. “It was pretty upsetting to me because I considered Williams to be a safe community,” she said.
Some of the thefts were done more conspicuously. Shamus Brady ’04 had his 100-CD holder stolen. “My screen was cut…and my window was pushed up,” he said. “My CD holder was stolen and the person ran, spilling CDs all over the lawn. The thieves then hid in the big bush by Chapin and took the discs out of there leaving all the cases for me to find…if anyone notices CDs without the original cases, they are probably stolen.”
He also reminded students to “lock their windows if they live on the first floor. I learned the hard way.”Another incident occurred when a tree was “stolen” from outside of Bryant.
“Actually, a small tree was physically cut down,” Roberts said. “Why someone would want to cut down a small tree is beyond us.”
Roberts stressed the need for students’ help in preventing crime. “It would really help the student body if they see or hear an activity that is wrong, call security,” he said. “It’s safer for the student and hopefully, we can stop an act from hindering a student’s record.”
Security is trying to alert and instruct students as to how to prevent theft and other crimes. Students can go to the security office to have their names engraved in their belongings. They can register their bicycles as well as vehicles. Junior Advisors (JAs) have been provided with High Dollar Value Item Inventory sheets for first-year students. Also, according to Roberts, students should lock their rooms when unattended, notify security of any suspicious activity in your dorms, not walk alone, especially at night, and simply “think ‘crime prevention.’”
“Many of our students want to believe that crime is not an issue at Williams,” Roberts said. “Unfortunately, it is. If the student population would help each other by taking proactive measures, thefts on campus would significantly decrease.”