Phone Thefts Continue in On-Campus Facilities

By Elijah McGuire-Berk
Web Editor
Since the start of 2017, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) has reported seven phones stolen at Washington College. Five phones were reported stolen from either Hodson Hall, Cain Gym, or the Casey Swim Center. The remaining were stolen from the Johnson Fitness Center.
Public Safety Director Gerald Roderick noted that the most common theft locations have remained the same from the previous semester.
“Any time we have valuables being left unattended, we become a real easy target,” he said. “When you’re using lockers and not putting any locks on them, or just leaving something unattended, you’ve created an opportunity for somebody to take what they want.”
At the fitness center, one theft occurred when a student worker left her phone unattended, and two more occurred when the owners were playing soccer in the field house. The perpetrator took the phones out of the bags.

Unattended Phone
Over the course of the year, seven phones have been reported stolen from Hodson Hall or the athletic centers on campus.

In addition to cell phones, money was also reported stolen from lockers that were not secured, especially in the male locker room.
Chair of the Physical Education Department Jonathan Jenkins was surprised by the number of phones taken from the athletic centers on campus.
“This wasn’t a surprise with these thefts; the surprise was the flurry of them. Typically, what we see is a couple of thefts per-year around the holiday time frame, but this string of cell phone thefts was significant.”
He said, “I think it’s from a certain group of people that have done this and know what to do in those situations.”
To help deter the thefts, the fitness center is currently on an I.D.-only entrance policy after 5 p.m.
Jenkins and the fitness center staff are currently working with Public Safety and the Student Events Board (SEB) to improve security.
Jenkins said, “Students and campus will probably see new policies be in place by the start of the fall semester.”
The exact details of these policies have yet to be worked out, but Johnson said they will be discussed through the summer.
Until then, people should keep their belongings close.
He  said, “If [students] are going to be putting their things in a locker in the locker room…be sure that they have a lock for those lockers [and] if they have bags near them, to make sure that the bags are visible to them when they’re working out or playing tennis or soccer in the field house.”
To deal with the incidents at the Dining Hall, Director of Dining Services Don Stanwick is already in the process of upgrading the Dining Hall’s security.
Stanwick said, “[Theft] is one of the reasons we are looking at the additional security in the fall by outfitting alarms on the [stairwell] doors to try to keep people from sneaking up.”
The fire alarms would activate when anyone opens the stairwell doors.
Stanwick said that the new security measures would deter students from sneaking in and draw attention to the individual coming through the door.
“Everyone will know exactly who it is, they’ll be put on that public spectacle. A lot of people get embarrassed by that, and it’s just one of those things that allows us to know if somebody is trying to sneak up.”
Like Jenkins, Stanwick urges students to keep their valuables with them. “I know it can be a pain,” he said. “Don’t leave something sitting on the table and just assume somebody else is going to watch it.”
Anyone who loses a cell phone or finds a lost one should report it to Public Safety, by visiting their office located in the basement of Wicomico Hall or by calling 410-778-7810 to speak with an officer.

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