The University of Rhode Island Campus Police are investigating the recent thefts of student-owned laptops in the Robert. L. Carothers Library.
“There has been a hike in laptop theft over the past couple of months in the library,” said Karim Boughida, dean of University Libraries. “The library has literally been targeted.”
According to Boughida, many instances of theft occurred on the third floor, the quiet area of the library.
“Everywhere, nationwide, thieves target where people won’t watch their stuff,” said Boughida, who thinks that people may be less likely to secure their belongings in a busy area, where many people could catch a thief.
In addition, Boughida also noted how all but one of the stolen laptops were Macbooks. He theorizes this may be because Macbooks tend to have a higher value than other kinds of computers. The latest theft was not a Macbook, which made Boughida wonder if the thief is changing their tactics.
“I was on the third floor of the library and I had to go to the bathroom so I left for three minutes,” Riley Shay, a sophomore finance major, said. “When I came back, my laptop was gone. I don’t know who did it or what happened.”
Shay said that his computer was stolen on a Friday afternoon a few weeks ago. Before this, he knew about the incidents, but didn’t personally know anyone affected by them.
“It’s kind of pathetic that it’s just gonna keep happening,” Shay said. “I hope the police and the school do something serious about this.”
Campus Police Maj. Michael Jagoda estimates that about eight to 10 students have reported having their laptops stolen from the library since the end of October. URI communications sent all students an email at the beginning of the semester warning students to secure their personal property.
Theft of electronic devices is a fairly common campus crime.
“There have been periods of time, not at the library, but certainly at residence halls, where we’ve had increases in activities like this,” said David Lavallee, assistant director of Marketing and Communications.
However, the theft of multiple devices in the library being stolen over a short period of time is odd.
“It’s unusual. Especially with the amount of people in the library at the time when these incidents are happening so it’s alarming to us,” said Jagoda.
The Campus Police are working to find the culprit and the stolen laptops.
“We’re not going to leave any stone unturned,” Jagoda said. “We have a lot of resources. We’re looking at everything.”
Jagoda emphasized that students should be careful in monitoring their personal belongings in order to prevent theft.
“When you have your property out and about in the community make sure you safeguard them,” he said. “Don’t leave out your ID or wallet or electronics in public. If they see something suspicious you should notify us immediately.”
“It’s important to pay attention. You go to the bathroom, or answer your phone and when you go back it could be gone,” said Boughida. “There will always be something. But we want to decrease the theft of laptops in the library.”
“It’s crazy that so many things are being taken,” said Naleen Camara, a freshman who works in the library. “In a few days, three Macbooks were stolen. It’s still happening. And it’s so stressful. Take your belongings and watch them. Especially during quiet holidays when no one seems to be around.”
Students and staff who have any knowledge on the thefts should contact the URI Police at 401-874-2121.