PAYDAY FOR THE COMMON THIEF

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Posted Thu, May 1, 2014

Thief's Monthly Salary: The total ammount of electronics stolen from the PE Building between Jan.1 and April 18, 2014. (Graph produced by Guillermo Martinez)

Thief’s Monthly Salary: The total amount of electronics stolen from the PE Building between Jan.1 and April 18, 2014. (Graph produced by Guillermo Martinez)

DENVER, Auraria Campus – The Physical Education Building offers many activities that boost speed, strength, endurance and overall health, but for those who leave their valuables unattended, their health might not be the only thing that gets boosted.

Although theft should be no surprise when someone leaves their laptop, tablet or smartphone unattended in the PE Building, or anywhere on campus for that matter, it is one of the most common preventable crimes reported to the Auraria Campus Police.

Blaine Nickeson said the most common crimes on campus are “crimes of opportunity.” Nickeson is Auraria Higher Education Center’s chief of staff and the assistant vice president of campus relations.

Crimes of opportunity: Blaine Nickeson, Assistant VP of Campus Relations. standing near what could be an easy payday for a thief on campus. (Photo by Daniel Day)

Crimes of Opportunity: Blaine Nickeson, assistant vice president of campus relations. is standing near what could be an easy payday for a thief on campus. (Photograph taken by Daniel Day)

“Let’s say I want to go and play a game of basketball and I’ve got my iPhone with me and my wallet. Obviously I don’t want to play with those in my pocket, so I set them down at the end of the court,” Nickeson said. “I get really into the game, lose track of what’s happening and somebody takes the opportunity to steal one of those items.”

This scenario is an all too common occurrence at the Auraria Campus PE Building and electronic devices are a thief’s greatest payoff.

“From what I’ve seen in the reports, electronics account for the highest value of the stolen items,” Guillermo Martinez said. Martinez is a project manager at Hewlett-Packard Co. with a master’s in business administration and is a part-time student on campus. He produced a chart displaying the value of electronics stolen from the PE building between Jan. 1 and April 18, 2014. “The total amount added up to $4,690,” he said.

In the locker rooms at the PE Building, it’s common to see unattended items in an unlocked locker and that suspicious character that seems to be endlessly tying their shoes might be waiting for the opportune moment to capitalize on their showering victim’s stash of electronics.

Crunching Numbers: Guillermo Martinez, part-time student at Metropolitan State University of Denver, processing data from Auraria crime records. (Photograph by Daniel Day)

Crunching Numbers: Guillermo Martinez, part-time student at Metropolitan State University of Denver, is processing data from campus crime records. (Photograph by Daniel Day)

“One of the things that’s important or unique about a campus community is that everybody sort of has to watch out for each other,” Nickeson said. “Everybody in the locker room is either done with a workout and, you know, their showering or getting cleaned up, … but when you see the guy walking around with the bag and backpack that doesn’t seem like he belongs there, those are where as a community I think folks need to watch out for each other.”

The injustice is that these bandits are rarely busted.

“It’s not a crime with a high clearance rate. Meaning that it’s an extremely difficult crime to investigate and prosecute,” Nickeson said. “When you’re assaulted, when somebody hits you or robs you, you’ve seen that happen. You have description of them; you know what direction of travel they went. When somebody steals your purse out of your car, it’s almost impossible to know where that person went.”

The PE Building will likely continue to welcome thievery, because regardless of how many victims of theft, folks continue to leave their valuables unattended and unsecured.

The Invincible: After working out, Alonzo Rodriguez grabs his backpack from above the lockers at the entrance of the gym in the PE Building (Photo taken by Daniel Day)

The Invincible: After working out, Alonzo Rodriguez grabs his backpack from above the lockers at the entrance of the gym in the PE Building (Photograph taken by Daniel Day)

Alonzo Rodriguez has been leaving his backpack unattended near the entrance of the gym in the P.E. Building since the 2013 Fall Semester.

“The only electronics I carry is my phone and that’s with me because that’s how I listen to music,” Rodriguez said. He knows that the area is prone to theft and even admits to leaving his wallet in his unattended backpack, yet he said that he plans to continue to leave his backpack unattended during his workouts thru the next three years.

Nickeson said that the it-won’t-happen-to-me mentality is common among victims of thievery. “I think that, in general, students sometimes have a sense of invincibility,” he said. “They just don’t realize.”

Words of advice:

  • Keep your eyes on your valuables at all times
  • Use a locker and lock it
  • Know your serial and model numbers
  • Download a tracking app on your laptop and other devices
  • If you’re a victim of theft, report to police immediately
Daniel Day

About Daniel Day

Daniel Day is a journalist currently studying at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

View all posts by Daniel Day

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