Break-in alarms students

A Mitchell Hall resident is warning his neighbors to keep tabs on who enters their rooms after he reported someone stole about $1,000 worth of equipment from his locked room Feb. 24.

Freshman Daniel Yang said the theft occurred the same day and at about the same time that a University Telecommunications technician keyed into his third-floor room to make a repair. Someone took a laptop computer, mini-disc player, CD player and watch from his locked room, he said. There was no sign of forced entry.

Dolores Stafford, director of University Police, said a witness’s description of the male she saw in Yang’s room does not match the description of the technician who keyed into his room. UPD is investigating the theft.

Freshman Lauren Borgen, the witness who spoke to UPD, said she saw a man repairing a computer piece working in Yang’s room at about 2:30 p.m. Yang’s door was open and a laptop that resembled Yang’s computer was on his desk, she said.

Telecommunications technicians normally leave a student’s door open when they work in a residence hall room, said Guy Jones, director of Telecommunications.

Yang said he left his locked room at about 11 a.m. the day of the theft and returned to find his property missing at 5 p.m. The room was still locked, and a note and voice mail message from a Telecommunications technician indicated someone had worked in his room, he said.

I would think that with a locked door I shouldn’t have any problem with things stolen, Yang said.

Yang said he knew someone might need to key into his room to repair his computer connection, but he did not think there would be any safety concerns.

I wasn’t too concerned before about security issues because I figure they’d have the (technician’s) name written down and be able to trace anything that happened to him, Yang said. But now it’s his word against mine.

The University has a log of when technicians sign for keys and tracks which employee is working on specific cases, Jones said.

Yang said there may be no way to figure out who stole his property because someone could have entered his room between 11 a.m. when he left for class and 1:30 p.m. when the technician signed out a key to his room.

There is no explanation for how someone other than a University employee could have entered his locked room during those two hours and why the thief would not choose to steal from an unlocked room, Yang said.

People have plenty of opportunity to steal stuff, Yang said. I think that it’s highly unlikely that someone would force entry into my room.

Although Yang was not hesitant to allow University technicians to key into his room before the theft, he said he is more careful now.

I’m definitely going to be more cautious about leaving things in the open, whether my door is open or closed, locked or unlocked, Yang said.

The University policy allows Telecommunications technicians to key into a student’s room without informing the resident, even if the student is not there, Jones said. The policy exists to allow repairs to be done as quickly as possible, he said.

There is a tried and tested, agreed-upon procedure, Jones said.

This is the first instance that a Telecommunications technician has come under suspicion for stealing property out of a student’s room in the three years Jones has been at the University, he said.

These issues stand out because they are rare, Jones said.

The process is safe because technicians must sign out a key, and about two-thirds of Telecommunications employees have been working at the University for at least three years, Jones said.

The single best guarantee is that we do have University employees who have been here for years, Jones said.

Telecommunications technicians can begin keying into students’ rooms after several months on the job, Jones said.

Alexa Kim, director of Student and Academic Support Services Technology Communication, said the procedure for signing out room keys guards against room theft. A student who does not want a Telecommunications technician to enter a vacant room must make a request to ResNet, Kim said.

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