Is your stuff safe?

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By: David Zheng <[email protected]>

After a long day at school, freshman Conor Cunningham reached into his backpack for his 80 GB black video iPod to listen to on the bus ride home, only to find it was not there.

“When I got on the bus it was gone. It was stolen from my backpack during fourth period gym,” Cunningham said.

However, Cunningham is not alone. According to police officer Gene Stilts, thieves at school stole $24,757 worth of valuables from students, $10,000 of which were video iPods.

There were even $770 worth of cash stolen from various students. “There were 20 incidents last year that totaled up for a stolen amount of $770, and if you divide 770 by 20, then that’s a lot of money,” Stilts said.

“Sometimes I think the school gives off a false sense of security. People don’t think that their stuff will be stolen here, but it will,” Stilts said. “Students need to treat the school like the Greyhound bus terminal. They should never leave their stuff unattended.”

Cunningham would more than agree with Stilts’ advice. “I don’t think it was ignorant of me to bring (the iPod) to school, but it was dumb of me to leave it out on the bleachers in gym unattended.” According to Stilts, the major problem areas with thefts are in the gym classrooms and lockers.

Administrative Assistant Bob Grenda helps Stilts with retrieving stolen items. “Most students are outstanding, and that’s why we encourage them not to bring (electronics), and if they bring them, to secure them properly so they don’t get stolen,” Grenda said. “Some people even bring electronics for the wrong reasons: to show off or look good. It’s in these cases that thieves usually get involved.”

In order to help students get back what is theirs, Stilts interrogates individuals that were there on the day that the theft happened, mounting up evidence in the process.

“If I have enough evidence for arrest, and if they admit to it, then most of the time they just bring back the stolen article. It’s basically just trying to find individuals that were there on the day that the theft happened,” Stilts said. The cameras also prove helpful in finding evidence of thefts.

“They’ve showed me a video of someone taking the iPod, but the camera was about 200 feet away, so they have some suspects but don’t know exactly who it is,” Cunningham said. “They’ve helped, but they haven’t found anything.”

“I don’t think kids are ignorant about it because they figure they’re safe in school, but personal items are not safe because there are some people in this building that aren’t quite honest,” Stilts said. “My advice is just to leave (electronics) at home, because only 5 percent of iPods are ever recovered. I would suggest only bringing bare necessities, and I consider iPods luxury items.”

Stilts even believes there is a “black market” for stolen iPods. “If the iPod isn’t found for longer than 24 hours, then it is nearly impossible to find because it was probably sold an hour or so after it was stolen,” Stilts said.

Cunningham has learned his lesson from the theft of his iPod. “I’d say just don’t bring anything over $100 because chances are it will get stolen. I mean, a cell phone you obviously have to bring, but don’t bring all the other things that aren’t necessary.”

“There’s no simple answer (to not getting one’s valuables stolen) other than if you bring it to school, it’s more likely to get taken. I guess I would just say to use electronics intelligently and the way they were intended,” Grenda said. “The biggest concern is that I don’t want people to get hurt.”