High-tech equipment thefts at KU on the rise

For a thief looking for high-tech equipment, Kansas University is one giant hunting ground. Lately, the hunting has been good.

“I think you’re seeing more taken because there’s more out there,” said Capt. Schuyler Bailey, a KU Public Safety Office spokesman. “We’re seeing more and more technology being put into classrooms, which makes them more and more attractive to potential thieves.”

According to a collection of police reports, more than $56,000 worth of computer or audio-visual equipment has been stolen from on-campus offices and classrooms this year, not counting thefts from residence-hall rooms. Detailed figures showing how that compares with previous years weren’t available this week, but Bailey said a couple of high-dollar thefts have made this an unusually bad year.

During spring break, more than $23,000 worth of data projectors, microphones, computers and other high-tech equipment disappeared from Summerfield, Wescoe and Strong halls. In addition, someone tried to take a video-projector mounted from the ceiling of a room in the Kansas Memorial Union.

The other major theft happened in the fall, when more than $22,000 worth of video equipment was taken from Memorial Stadium.

There have been no suspects identified in either case, police said.

“It certainly is disappointing and frustrating that there are people out there with nothing better to do than to cause havoc for other people,” said Jim Marchiony, associate athletic director. “It has a terrible effect on our budget because we have to replace that equipment.”

Other buildings on campus have seen thefts on a smaller scale, often concentrated within a few days of each other.

¢ In Murphy Hall, home to the school of fine arts, someone stole a key fob with 11 keys between Feb. 1 and Feb. 2. Days after that, an Apple iPod and an LCD display monitor valued at $1,300 disappeared from rooms in the building.

¢ Learned Hall, which houses engineering programs, also has been a target. Between Oct. 28 and Dec. 16, someone entered a room and stole three still cameras and one video camera with hardware, valued at $4,033 total. About the same time, a computer memory stick and $350 cash disappeared from nearby rooms.

Other thefts of high-tech equipment have been reported at the Dole Center, (RCA Lyra multimedia player, Dec. 13) Stauffer-Flint Hall (laptop computer, March 1) the Burge Union’s career center, (digital camera, Oct. 20) Robinson Gymnasium, (DVD player/VCR, Oct. 17) and Haworth Hall (Dell computer monitor, March 23).

“These buildings are open,” Bailey said. “Some of these buildings are open 24 hours a day. There are a lot of people that come and go from these buildings.”