Signs warn of theft in dorms

Kristen Vasas and Kristen Vasas

A bundle of newly displayed 8.5-by-11 inch signs are causing quite the stir among residents living in Offenhauer Towers.

The signs, bearing the message ‘Attention! Clothes Have Been Stolen! Please stay with your washers and dryers,’ were hung in the Offenhauer laundry rooms sometime early last week.

According to Vanessa Elola, resident hall director of Offenhauer Towers, the signs were made because of the increase in theft on campus and in dorms during this time of year.

Nicholas Hennessy, director of Residence life, agreed with the need for warning signs.

‘There is definitely an increase in thefts closer to finals week,’ he said. ‘Although I’m sure that laundry is included in this, the main problems are probably books and dorm room equipment, such as computers and iPods.’

But as the school year comes to an end, most students feel secure enough in their buildings to leave their dorm rooms unlocked without worrying about having valuables stolen.

Ashley Haidet, freshman and resident of Offenhauer Towers, says she feels safe enough in her environment to leave the door unlocked when she’s gone for a small period of time, but thinks the new signs in the laundry room are a good idea.

‘I’ve never met anyone who’s actually had something stolen before,’ she said. ‘I think it’s nice that the directors watch out for us like that though.’

But Haidet doesn’t think that the signs are going to be that effective this close to the end of the school year.

‘By this time, a lot of us feel safe enough to just leave our laundry and come back when it’s finished,’ she said. ‘I know I don’t have the time to just sit in there and watch it, and I’m sure a lot of other people don’t either.’

But according to Elola, that is just the problem. Students become too trusting of one another and think that ‘everyone is just like them. Just because you wouldn’t steal someone else’s possessions, doesn’t mean that one of your floormates wouldn’t,’ Elola said.

Elola also notes that it’s important to be aware of your surroundings in order to prevent theft, even if the environment consists of a washing machine and dryer.

‘This is the time of year when thefts definitely increase,’ Elola said. ‘Students need to understand that just because they are comfortable with their neighbors and floormates, that doesn’t mean they can just walk away from their laundry and rooms and expect something not to be taken from them.’

Although it may seem as though theft rates on campus are rising drastically due to all the aggressive action taken by the University, the numbers are actually dropping.

According to the BGSU Department of Public Safety, there were 210 grand and petty theft charges reported in 2005. Since January 2006, there have only been 87 theft charges brought to campus police.

But Elola says that these numbers may be misrepresentations of the actual theft numbers.

‘A lot of people will not report something stolen from them to the police if they think the item is not important enough, such as laundry. We probably don’t have an accurate theft record because students don’t report petty thefts,’ she said.

Even if theft is more rampant on campus than believed, there are still ways to protect valuables.

‘Be alert,’ Elola said. ‘Lock your rooms whenever you’re not there, even if your just going down the hall for a few minutes to visit a friend. Be aware of others in your community. If you see someone walking down the hallway with what looks like your friend’s laptop, don’t be afraid to approach them and check it out.

‘You never know when someone will strike,’ she added. ‘If some of these measures aren’t taken, especially in the next few weeks, the next time you walk in your room, everything could be gone.’