Thief Strikes Main Street Dormitory

After this past winter’s LAL dance, prep Rohan Nawalrai returned to his dorm to find $120 missing from his room. But Nawalrai isn’t the only one this year who has been victim to theft. This was one of over twenty reported thefts that have occurred in Main Street over the course of the year.

Main Street dormitory, which houses 58 students, has been dealing with theft issues since fall term, but has seen a recent increase in cases during the late winter and early spring terms. If a theft of more than $500 is reported, it is reported to the police and investigated. Otherwise, campus safety is usually notified and they take a report, according to Dean of Residential Life AJ Cosgrove, who confirmed that students have been reporting missing various amounts of cash.

Although well over $500 has been reported to be missing in total, police have not been notified due to the lack of information to pinpoint a specific individual. “We cannot suspect any individual unless you catch a person red-handed,” Main Street dorm faculty Richard Schieber said.

Cosgrove met with the dorm last Sunday to stress the importance of locking doors and keeping money in close possession. Based on the times that cash went missing, it is evident that the money is being stolen by someone within the dormitory. “Without any more information, it is difficult to do any sort of investigation.” Cosgrove said, “Of course, dorm theft affects the entire dorm community in a negative way. Unfortunately, there is no simple solution.”

The dorm faculty has also met with the entire dorm on multiple occasions to emphasize safety precautions that students should take. No immediate solutions to the problem have been put in place yet. “There’s no other advice we can give than to lock the doors,” Schieber said. “Right now it’s all ideas and we have no facts. So we have no way of determining any suspects of the thefts.”

Students who have lost their keys were to report to dorm faculty to receive new keys, free of charge. They have also had the locks changed to protect their possessions. Others are electing to install recording devices within their rooms. One proposition was to search several rooms.

Room checks would negatively affect the community and most likely turn up no results, unless people mark their money, according to Schieber. The idea of placing cameras in the hallways was proposed in a meeting. However, many are opposed to being videotaped at all hours, given their daily actions within the dorm.

With thefts on the rise, students have begun to make assumptions as to who the thief or thieves are. “Without any facts, rumors begin and they can be very dangerous,” Schieber continued. “You might unfairly target the wrong person. There’s no way to tell whether it’s one person committing the thefts or multiple people. It starts with one person and then people realize that it’s easy to steal from people and the thefts escalate.”

Prep Chris Caviedes, who has had $270 and a mouse stolen from him, said that there is not enough information yet to accuse others. “I’m not really sure what can be done about it because nobody really has any real evidence leading to anyone specific so anything that anyone says are pretty much assumptions,” he said.

In addition to the dorm meetings, faculty members are also keeping an eye out for students to prevent the recurring thefts. Dorm faculty and proctors who come by your room and find it unlocked will lock it for the student, according to Caviedes. “But they want us to be more responsible having everybody lock their doors. If the door’s open, they inflict some sort of punishment. It’s more of a precaution so nobody gets anything stolen from them,” he said, “But really, I don’t see why the whole dorm should be punished for someone stealing things.”

Despite the fact that dorm faculty and Dean Cosgrove have stressed locking doors, it is almost impossible to keep one’s room locked at all times. The thefts usually occur when a student leaves his room for a short period of time. “We do lock our doors, but most of these crimes have been happening when people go to the bathroom for five minutes,” lower Ali Abdullah Saroya said. Saroya also noticed that the thefts seemed to be concentrated towards North Side.

A student, who wished to remain anonymous, talked about his frustration at getting money stolen during short lapses of time. “I’ve been locking my door now all the time, every time I leave my room, because it was a pretty short time that I was gone, like 10, 15 minutes and my wallet was in here, came back and the money was gone,” he said. “So now I’m locking my door and taking my wallet with me wherever I go, I just follow those precautions.”

Some students believe that the theft is concentrated on certain students, since the thefts occur repeatedly to select individuals. “I think that whoever's doing this is doing this personally because some people are getting stolen from more than others,” prep Alex Zhang said. “I definitely feel like the person who is stealing is targeting certain people more than others.”

Though the theft of cash has been the biggest issue so far, many other items have been reported to be stolen as well. “I know of five people who have had more than $100 stolen,” lower Sage Mason said. “But in the dorm meeting, many that I hadn't heard of were addressed: phones, watches, keys, headphones and computer mice.”

These thefts not only serve as a source of worry among students, but for their parents as well. “The first time [I was stolen from], my parents were pretty upset. I didn’t know what they would think about it because coming to Exeter, they thought it would be a really safe place,” Caviedes said. “And the second time, it was worse.”

Another student, who wished to remain anonymous, shared a similar experience. “I was really enjoying Main Street. I still am. But my parents got really worried and upset about it,” he said.

The loss of trust within the dorm is a depressing thought among the students of Main Street. "Everyone in Main Street knows each other pretty well so it's really a shame that someone whom I think I know could be so different in actuality,” lower Andrew Turner said. “I've heard people say that they think its one person or another. It's really sad that this thief could be the sole cause of such distrust in a previously tight-knit dorm."

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