Unidentified perpetrators with key access to Allegheny’s facilities committed a string of burglaries this summer, the latest occurring this Sunday at Bentley Hall.
Burglaries have occurred in the Tippie Alumni Center, the Vukovich, the Health Center, the Physical Plant, Schultz Hall and various offices in the Campus Center, including the Campus’s office and the office of the Association for the Advancement of Black Culture.
In each incident, the perpetrators entered academic buildings and offices after hours and stole anywhere from $40 to over $1,000.
City of Meadville police are assisting in the investigation.
Director of Safety and Security Jeff Schneider said that finding the perpetrators is a matter of figuring out who has access to keys when.
“If we suspect, for instance, that it might be someone, an affiliate of the college for instance… we’re going to prevent the access opportunity for this person,” said Schneider. “Maybe the person might get more brazen and end up breaking windows instead. But then we’d have more real evidence.”
The burglaries are not the first of their kind. Two subcontractors working for the college were arrested and terminated in January for entering and burglarizing dorm rooms.
Grounds for Change, the student-run coffee shop located in the Campus Center, has been burglarized twice since the beginning of 2012.
Upon returning from winter break at the beginning of last spring semester, former GFC president Heather Neylon discovered that the lock was cut on the cabinet in which the coffee shop kept its money.
The perpetrators made off with $440.
Then, in early June, another $40 made during Alumni Reunion weekend was taken from a tip jar in a locked drawer.
Ian Colley, ‘13, the current president of GFC, called the burglaries “frustrating.”
“In the second incident, it was a span of maybe ten hours during which the only people who could have been in GFC were [the perpetrators],” said Colley. “It should have been, I would think, very feasible to figure out who was on shift in that area at that time.”
Schneider said that the string of burglaries has renewed discussion of the installation of surveillance cameras on-campus.
“If we would have had security cameras, we would have had this person on tape somewhere on campus,” said Schneider.
The debate over a closed-circuit television system has been going on since Schneider arrived in 2010 to replace former Director of Safety and Security Ken Kensill.
After a number of votes on the subject, Allegheny Student Government decided against the system and the college decided not to move forward.
Schneider believes the burglaries give the debate new urgency.
“We have to bring this to a conclusion,” said Schneider. “There’s a real need for it. It’s just another tool for us to use.”