GW offers reward for computer theft clues

The Office of Student and Academic Support Services offered a $500 reward last week for information about nine reported technology thefts in University buildings last month.

The most recent incidents involved the theft of two Random Access Memory cards and a Pentium II processor in the Mitchell Hall computer lab, and the theft of a printer in the Francis Scott Key Hall computer lab.

The thefts create a pinch in the University’s technology budget, said Director of SASS Technology Communications Alexa Kim.

The nature of the crimes is as unusual as the University’s use of a reward to catch the thieves, said University Police Director Dolores Stafford.

SASS Vice President Robert Chernak’s office offered the reward in an effort to retrieve the newly purchased computer parts and prevent future theft of student resources.

“I don’t recall any other time when computer parts from labs were stolen,” Stafford said. “In the seven years I’ve been here, this is the first time we’ve used a reward.”

The FSK theft occurred Jan. 15. However, it remains unclear when the Mitchell Hall equipment was stolen. A SASS Comm computer technician discovered the missing memory after a student reported functional problems Jan. 22, according to UPD.

Because the Mitchell Hall computer parts are small enough to conceal in a bag, hallway security cameras did not help UPD investigators. UPD will review FSK Hall tapes, Stafford said.

SASS Comm administrators are considering the installation of security cameras in University computer labs to prevent future thefts, Kim said.

Most computer thefts occur in offices or residence hall rooms that have been left unattended, Stafford said.

“If people leave their possessions unattended and someone enters an unlocked room and has a choice between a wallet and a laptop (computer), they’re going to take the laptop,” Stafford said. “Its not odd.”

The recent thefts of newly purchased computer parts have administrators worried about the University’s technology budget for providing updated machines in campus labs.

“The thefts do pose a problem to our budget,” Kim said. “We just spent a lot of money buying new computers and we can’t afford to replace them again.” SASS Comm, which manages the University’s computer lab budget, used its 1998-’99 expenditures to purchase eight computers for labs in Mitchell and Madison halls. The two computers are out of use until the University purchases new memory cards and another $500 Pentium II processor.

The Mitchell Hall computer lab now has two functional computers and one e-mail terminal.

Because the two cases involve a person stealing from a community of students rather than an individual, extra attention is paying paid to the incidents, Stafford said.

UPD Associate Director Anthony RoccoGrande said the cases have been assigned an investigator.

UPD is asking anyone with information about the thefts to contact Stafford’s office at 994-6948.

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