Two stolen laptops signal returning theft trend

Two laptops were stolen from Marshburn Hall and Sutherland Hall today.

Katie Nelson, Writer

More than a year after a slew of electronics thefts occurred last fall, one laptop was stolen from Marshburn Hall and one from Sutherland Hall today — with a different suspect.

Campus Safety suspects that the man responsible is an approximately 20-year-old African-American man, whose image was captured by security cameras, according to an email alert released by Campus Safety earlier today. Despite his age, Campus Safety does not believe the suspect is a Biola student.

“We don’t know that he wasn’t a student, but this is a tactic we’ve seen in the past where criminals on other campuses will dress like students when they commit a crime,” said Campus Safety public information officer Justin Shelby. Shelby noted that it is rare for a student to be involved in an on-campus property theft.

Campus Safety believes that the man entered both buildings and stole the two unguarded laptops sitting in faculty offices. After last year’s laptop-stealing spree, Shelby said Campus Safety is acting proactively to stop further thefts. For instance, the crime alert was released more quickly than a typical one.

“The crime alert, we did that after about an hour after hearing about [the crime],” he said. “So we want to … make people aware.”

Shelby emphasized that Biola is not the only school to see a spike in thefts, especially around the holidays and final exam weeks. Earlier this month, thieves stole a Pepperdine University employee’s laptop that contained personal student information.

“I think many campuses in general are targets this time of year because students are more distracted with finals week and everybody’s really busy getting ready for the end of the semester. It’s a time when people are especially targeted by criminals,” Shelby said.

The man who is suspected has still not been caught. Campus Safety expects he will return and urges students to report any suspicious people and to not leave laptops unsupervised, Shelby said.

“Like the thefts last year, these were unattended laptops left out in the open. We want to really encourage people to be careful,” he said.

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