By Alex Lamp:
Positive identifications, convictions and savvy librarians might make thieves think twice before stealing on Ocean campus.
Thieves have hit the Rosenberg Library over 30 times since January 2012, stealing cash and electronics from victims, according to City College Police Department statistics.
Despite multiple security cameras watching over City College students in the library, cellphones, laptops and cash continue to go missing at a steady rate.
“The majority of the thefts that occur in the library are because of students leaving their items unattended,” City College police officer Erica McGlaston said.
Most of the thefts occur in the secluded study cubicles on the third, fourth and fifth floors of the library. The study tables are not an ideal target because of their openness. Thieves will survey the rows of cubicles waiting for their opportunity.
Many students feel comfortable falling asleep at library tables with their electronics around them or leaving their items unattended while using the restroom or while looking for a book in the library.
This is exactly what thieves exploit when taking the valuables of unsuspecting victims.
Janet Tom, a Rosenberg Library staff member, explained three isolated incidents that have occurred in the library.
On the fifth floor, one female and two males scoped out a row of cubicles until one student left their laptop unattended and the suspects took it.
Another incident that took place a couple weeks ago. A thief stole an international student’s backpack that was positioned beside him while we was studying. The student was unaware that the theft had occurred.
Last year a female student got away with an iPhone. It was tracked remotely by the San Francisco Police Department, but the phone was returned to the library before police could apprehend a suspect.
Distance and Electronic Coordinator James Horn Lim and the library staff often do walkthroughs and leave fliers warning people of the risk they face if they leave their items unattended.
Preventing thefts in the library has been an ongoing challenge for the City College Police Department and library staff.
This is mainly because there are always new thieves. The old ones don’t usually return to the library if they know they’ve been identified.
“You have people who are local that commit these crimes. You have students who commit these crimes, and then you have people who have to take BART to get here,” McGlaston said. “A lot of the people who walk through the library and Wellness Center that steal these things are not our students. They play by different rules.”
When the police are observing the flow of students coming in and out of the library, they are watching for suspicious individuals. People who walk into the library that have no backpacks or books or are dressed suspiciously are given more attention by officers.
“We watch them on the cameras walk floors,” McGlaston said.
The security cameras in the library can take photographs as well as perform real-time actions such as adjusting angles and zooming in and out for a more precise view of possible suspects.
Campus police have successfully provided evidence to the San Francisco Police Department that has lead to at least two positive identifications that have resulted in recent convictions.