Campus suffers substantial spike in theft incidence

The Williams community has experienced a significant increase in thefts on campus in recent months. While 2006 and 2007 saw 55 and 59 reported thefts, respectively, in 2008 there were a total of 78 reported thefts with an estimated dollar value for the items stolen just under $30,000. Thirty-three of the thefts in 2008 occurred in residences, 43 in other College buildings and two from public property locations. In 2009 there have already been 17 reported thefts with an estimated dollar value of $8000.

Last November alone there were 16 reported thefts, nine of which were reported over a three-day period. Jean Thorndike, director of Campus Safety and Security, said, “This led us to believe that someone was intentionally targeting our students and taking full advantage of an opportunity to steal items.”

The majority of these the thefts in November were from dorms on campus. There was another bout of thefts in February; in one day there were four incidents reported from Currier House. Although the thefts in November and February were primarily from residences, Thorndike said, “It should be noted that thefts occur in many of our College buildings and not just residences.”

Thefts have been reported in locker rooms, libraries, dining halls, academic buildings and the Paresky Center. A wide range of items are reported stolen; the most common include iPods, cell phones, cameras and laptops.

Security Officers Robert Bleau and Tom Craw work in crime prevention. Bleau manages the Operation ID program and engraves identification numbers on personal items free of charge. Craw has implemented the digital ID program through which he has been able to identify unclaimed iPods, cameras and cell phones that have been left in lost and found.

“Every member of this department makes crime prevention their primary goal and officers patrol proactively to identify concerns and vulnerabilities,” Thorndike said.

All reports that Security receives are also given to the Williamstown Police Department. “The police provide an additional resource to the College and have been very helpful during investigations. Many cases have been closed due to their help,” Thorndike said.

Emily Olsen ’09 became a victim when her iPod was stolen from the Upper Lasell Fitness Center. “I put my iPod and water bottle in a cubby that had my clothes in it and went to the bathroom,” she said. “When I came back just a few minutes later, my iPod was gone.”

In order to reduce the likelihood of thefts on campus, Security advises students to lock their bedroom doors, avoid leaving notes on their doors saying that they aren’t in, never leave valuables unattended and lock bikes and cars. Thorndike added, “Students should become less trusting when they see unfamiliar faces in their residences. Students must remain alert and report any suspicious persons or activity.”
Security maintains a full inventory of all lost and found items, including bicycles.