Theft on campus proven to be unfounded


Graphic by Liz Day, graphics editor

Thirty-two thefts have been reported and filed since the beginning of fall 2017. However, most thefts reported on campus are unfounded, as many are the cause of misplaced or lost items.

“A complaint will be called into the police department dispatch. Dispatch sends out a patrol officer. The patrol officer initiates a theft report,” said John Santellan, TUPD lieutenant-investigator. “Also, you got to consider that sometimes they are not theft reports. Sometimes they turn out to be missing property, lost property.”

Often times students will momentarily leave their possessions, which may then be moved without their knowledge or forgotten about. Most of these students will call TUPD after a few days informing them that had found the missing item.

Trinity has very low crime rates, creating a safe environment on campus. However, this environment invites students to leave their valuables unattended, which can lead to theft.

“The items may be recovered, or [TUPD] recovers them. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that we recovered them because they were missing or lost. It may also be that they were stolen and recovered,” Santellan said. “For example, say, a pawn shop. If something stolen winds up in a pawn shop and we investigate, we can take it from the pawn shop and bring it back to the owner.”

Students generally feel safe on the university’s campus. Though crime is never at zero percent, the university has not had any major issue with theft in recent years.

“During my 17 years at Trinity, there has not been a period of time when there was a lot of theft on campus, thankfully,” said Wanda Olson, associate director for Residential Life.

Giselle Britt, a first-year, has experienced a general trusting attitude amongst students on campus.

“I don’t usually leave my stuff unattended, but if I were to leave my stuff, I feel as if I wouldn’t be afraid to ask someone to watch over it,” Britt said. “In the library or in the CSI private study rooms, people will just leave their stuff there for hours just to reserve the rooms, but I haven’t really heard of anyone’s stuff being stolen on campus.”

The few thefts that do occur tend to have been committed by individuals outside of the Trinity community. Certain parts of campus are open to the public, and are therefore more exposed.

“Crime is low, but it’s not 100 percent, and it’s normally not student-to-student. Sometimes crimes from the outside come in, and that’s when things tend to happen most of the time,” Santellan said.

Areas like the Bell Center are open to the surrounding community and have had incidents occur in the past. This is when TUPD follow up with the theft as a crime. If they are able to locate a suspect and gather enough information, they can take that to the district attorney’s office and press charges.