By Michelle Solomon
Theft is on the increase again, both on and off-campus. The perpetrators will steal anything, but it seems that laptops are especially targeted this year.
In November last year the Campus Protection Unit and the Grahamstown police caught and arrested two students for having stolen property from all over campus in their possession. The arrests took place at Cullen Bowles house and, according to witness Stuart Buchanan, “there were police everywhere”. Buchanan says that piles of wallets, cellphones, and several laptops were carried out of the room. These were apparently taken back to CPU, where those students who had been victim of theft had the opportunity to collect their belongings.
Daniel Domoney, sub-warden of Adamson house, has also experienced the two students thieving on a large scale. Adamson is a residence particularly targeted by thieves due to its relatively open door policy. When CPU recovered the stolen property from the thieves, at least 5 cellphones and wallets were found to be from Adamson house. “We’ve caught guys stealing out of our fridge,” says Domoney. “They just walk in and take whatever isn’t tied down”.
According to Dave Charteris, the two students arrested at this time “admitted to CPU that they had been operating together with other students and local criminals”. Charteris also reports that the two students have appeared in court, but have been released on bail. Since this release however, one of the students has been arrested three times since January 28 this year. On January 28 the student was arrested “in the act of breaking into Jan Smuts House through a window”, says Charteris. The student then successfully stole from the head student of Jan Smuts, Jonathan Hellemann, after posing as a prospective student of the university. He then again appeared in court, and was released on bail for a second time. Thereafter the student stole a laptop from Helen Joseph ‘B’ house, but later that day “he was arrested by the police and the laptop recovered”, says Charteris.
The Sub-warden of Ruth First house, Kwezilomso Mbandazayo, has recently been victim of laptop theft, and it has not yet been recovered. Upon returning to her room she says she “noticed the wires were by themselves” and that “There was no rectangular figure”. Apparently the window was closed and since there was no forced entry into the room, the police are unable to be of much help apparently. She has given her MAC address to the IT Division, so if anyone plugs it into the network they will be caught and IT will have the whereabouts of the computer.
Off-campus has also seen a recent increase of break-ins and theft, and digs resident, Ivan Hodgson, has been victim of this several times. Thieves will steal virtually everything, but Hodgson says it’s easier to say “what hasn’t been stolen”, and that a digsmate of his “once came home to an empty wardrobe”. The robberies are extensive, and often everything, from clothes to DVDs, have been reported stolen. The digsmates have even caught one of the thieves wearing their clothes, but the police turned the case down “as there wasn’t enough evidence” says Hodgson.
Hodgson has also stated his lack of faith in the local police. “We are still waiting for the prints duster”, he says, and “we’ve been waiting since last year”.