No magic here
by Matthew Obrigewitsch
Lockers broken into
A small rash of thefts has been reported to Campus Security recently. An unknown thief or thieves have been breaking into lockers secured with locks purchased by some students at the U of R bookstore.
Salina Stilborn, one of the victims, kept a locker in the Lab Building near the corridor to College West. On the morning of September 22, Stilborn found her locker without a lock. Further inspection revealed that approximately six other lockers nearby were without locks. She found all the missing locks in a nearby garbage can.
The thieves have been very selective with what they take, according to Stilborn.
“[The lockers] I saw didn’t look like they had been ransacked,” Stilborn reports. “There was money in my locker and a brand new Chemistry 102 text, with the receipt and everything, in another locker,” she adds. However, a lab manual was stolen from one locker.
The broken locks were purchased at the U of R Bookstore, and are manufactured by either one of two companies: Buffalo, a school supply company, and Master, a well-known lock manufacturer. Both of the locks are packaged as ‘backpack locks’ but are sold on the same rack as the heavier-duty, traditional combination locks. These backpack locks are unique in that they allow the owner to set their own combination, which appeals to some students. The backpack locks, though, are not meant to secure a locker.
The locks are also much easier to break and in relatively short order. When the locks are used on a locker, the stiffness of the locker allows the thief to twist the lock with enough torque to force it open in a matter of seconds. If the lock were on a backpack, there would be no such reinforcement.
Brandon Letain of Campus Security recommends a sturdier lock.
“The [ordinary] Master locks are good, we don’t get many of those in. The luggage locks may be a couple bucks cheaper, which is appealing, but you get what you pay for in terms of quality.”
Letain also notes that foot patrols around campus have increased by 80 per cent in response to this rash of break-ins.
In terms of prevention, Letain has several suggestions.
“Keep your valuables with you. Cash, your wallet [and] cell phones are easily tradable. Also, the more people [who] report suspicious activity, the better. We can’t stress that enough.”
Textbooks are some of the most commonly reported stolen items on campus, both in this rash and in general, according to Letain. Textbooks, however, are not as easily traded in as they once were. Student ID is now required in addition to the original receipt to return books to the Bookstore.
The U of R Bookstore has, since the break-ins, pulled both the Master and Buffalo brand locks from their shelves. This is the second time Stilborn has had her locker broken into, but the first time she did not find the broken lock. She hopes other students will not make the same mistake she did.
“I just want people to know not to buy these locks.”