With Christmas just around the corner, Springfield College students have been crowding into Babson Library in large numbers to prepare for finals. The library has historically been a haven of quiet, a place to study away from the distractions of a student’s room. But there has been a disturbing trend both in the library and around campus this holiday season: a spate of thefts and car break-ins. These crimes are not confined to merely the library. Cars have been broken into, and phones stolen out of Cheney Hall.
“[I] went to Cheney and left my phone and ID on the table to go get food,” said junior Helen Evans. “I came back and I couldn’t find it.”
Evans approached a Cheney employee and learned that three other phones had been stolen during that day as well.
“I don’t know,” said Evans. “I was kind of surprised that three other phones had been stolen and there wasn’t a sign or somebody telling you to be more careful.”
An email was sent to the Springfield College community after SC Chief of Public Safety Judy Jackson requested it.
“We send out the notice when I see something going on that is repeated,” said Jackson. “I try to figure out what we need to alert our students about, so we had the advisories made up.”
Public Safety is advising students to keep an eye on their belongings and not to leave phones, iPods or laptops sitting on desks in the library or tables in Cheney. The employees of both buildings are urging more caution and have promised to keep a better eye out.
“I just think the [students] should be more aware, maybe more signage; we have these small signs but I think we should have more signage,” said Cheney Hall Supervisor Anthony Lattell. “Maybe I can have my staff, if they see someone [leave a phone], keep an eye on the phone or tell the kids to take it with them. That’s the only thing I can think of.”
The thefts at Babson Library have been even worse with laptops, iPods and phones disappearing with regularity.
“Library staff walk through the building throughout the day and remind people not to leave their belongings unattended,” said David McMahon, the library’s patron services specialist. “The best way to keep your stuff safe is to keep it with you, even if you’re just running to the bathroom. Most people wouldn’t leave their phone or laptop sitting out on a table at a coffee shop and they shouldn’t here. We have lockers that are available to students; you just have to sign up at the Information Desk.”
Both McMahon and Babson Library Director Andrea Taupier caution against jumping to conclusions about who may be committing these crimes.
“People are quick to cast suspicion on members of the community who visit the library, but that’s a mistake,” said McMahon. “The thefts we’ve had have occurred during times when it’s almost exclusively students in the building.”
Although no evidence is pointing towards members of the community, there is a suspicion among the student body.
“Maybe they shouldn’t open it to the public,” said junior Breonna Harrington, referring to Babson. “I bring it [my phone or laptop] with me if I go to the bathroom.”
Chief Jackson claims that they are not yet sure who is committing these crimes on campus. Although a student did not commit the car burglaries, or “smash and grabs,” in at least one occasion, it is impossible to determine who is committing these crimes until they are caught.
“The thefts from the dining hall and the thefts from the library I can’t say,” said Jackson in regard to who was responsible. “We don’t know that yet. I mean, the opportunity is there for anybody.”
The Campus Police have made strides toward stopping these crimes. They are working with the Springfield Police Department to apprehend the person responsible for the car burglaries and are taking steps to protect student’s belongings in Cheney Hall and Babson Library, but some students want to see a more visible change.
“I think the security guards with the orange vests should do a better job,” said Harrington. “Because clearly they’re not walking through parking lots enough and looking at cars.”
As the semester winds down, Chief Jackson promised students that they would keep working to catch the criminals into the next semester and work to keep campus safe.
Josh Ernst may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org