Campus / Campus Safety / News / May 27, 2010

Theft leads to ticketing

When sophomore Supriya Kasaju left her laptop and other items in the library last week, she did so with the confidence it would remain untouched. Upon returning from dinner, however, she was surprised to find an unusual notice among her things.

“I came back and there was a green slip that said, ‘unattended item ticket,’” she said. “I was kind of surprised—this never happened before. All of last year I left my things unattended.”

According to librarian Sharon Clayton, the tickets do not involve any sort of fine or punishment but merely serve as a reminder to students that leaving items unattended may not be the best idea.

“We’ve been doing it for a long time,” said Clayton. “We are open to the public and we have had thefts in the past, so we did not want the students to be unaware that their belongings could be at risk. It is great that they feel safe but we wanted to make sure that they know it’s probably not a good idea to leave valuables unattended.”

Although Clayton said only a small number of tickets have been given out, that number is increasing due to the recent theft of a student’s laptop. Freshman Charlotte Young left her items unattended on the third floor of the library for only a few minutes but came back to find her laptop and charger missing.

“I came [to Knox] with a huge amount of trust installed in the people,” said Young. “Especially at Knox, I felt secure enough to leave my computer here.”

Young said she felt that Knox is able to advertise a secure and trusting community. Now, however, she has become more cautious, being sure to lock her windows and take her things with her if she will be away for even a few minutes.

“Now I’ve had something stolen, not just a backpack or a book,” she said. “It’s pretty crucial to a college student. It’s a huge invasion of privacy—I have pictures on there…my work as well.”

Despite Young’s experience, Clayton felt the library has a relatively small problem with theft as long as students remain aware of their surroundings.

“It’s not like theft has been a huge problem—not even once a year, necessarily,” she said. “But it’s important for students to know this isn’t some place where nothing bad can happen.”

Although Kasaju and Young, who both work in the library, occasionally notice missing books and DVD’s, Clayton indicated their rate of disappearance is not unusual.

“Some books always go missing in any library,” said Clayton. “My guess would be that we have a lower than average rate for library theft.”

Clayton advised that students take their items with them if leaving the library for an extended period of time or ask someone nearby to watch items if leaving for a few minutes. Due to high activity at the main desk, library staff is unable to watch items.

Will unattended item tickets increase student’s awareness?

“Absolutely,” said junior Becca Chelton. “I was there when it happened. The day before, I left my stuff up there for like three hours…I might leave my stuff for a short time, but not for a long time.”

Kasaju agreed that the tickets and a fellow student’s experience put her more on guard.

“Next time I study in the library, I’ll be a little more cautious,” she said.

Katy Sutcliffe

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