Rise in thefts creates concerns

Friday night following the rail jam event of Winter Carnival, Bradley Guinen, a 22-year old senior criminal justice major from Gorham, N.H., dropped by a friend’s room on the second deck of Hawkins Hall. He left $850 worth of ski gear just outside his buddy’s door.

Within 30-45 minutes “they were gone.”

Racing up and down the hallway banging door-to-door looking for his gear – to the extent that security showed up due to a noise complaint –  was how he spent the rest of his Friday night.

Bradley Guinen's skis were drying in the hallway, like these ones, when they were stolen from Hawkins Hall. (Ivy Ceballo Photo)

Bradley Guinen’s skis were drying in the hallway, like these ones, when they were stolen from Hawkins Hall. (Ivy Ceballo Photo)

“Wow,” he said, remembering his anger that night at the theft. “I could’ve committed a felony at that point.”

Incidents like this challenge just how much respect is given to the cadet honor code – “I will not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do” – as well as the effectiveness of Norwich campus security.

Ironically, Guinen’s sophomore year he lived in Hawkins and always left his ski gear out in the hallway to dry overnight. “I didn’t give it a second thought,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we have some thieves on campus,” said Chief of Security Michael Abraham. “(They) make life miserable for all the honest people that believe in the honor code and the nice little, close society we have here.”

If a custodian sees something valuable in the hallway and it has been there for a long time, they confiscate it and put it in their custodial room to prevent it from getting stolen. Although as Abraham explains, sometimes they are hesitant to do this because they are one of the first to be accused if there is a theft because of their easy access into the buildings.

Abraham says students need to do more as well to protect their gear. “If you have things that you cherish, then you lock them up,” said Abraham.

At Norwich’s latest open forum with President Richard Schneider, James Black, a senior communications major from Lynnfield, Mass., suggested surveillance cameras could be used as a deterrent in cases such as these or when there is some kind of disruptive behavior in the dorm buildings.

He also commented that if security had a stronger presence on campus, he felt people would be less likely to commit crimes like the recent theft of skis too.

“We can’t afford them because they’re not spending enough money into security as it is,” said Black. “It’s kind of sad when you wear the ring and you hear people getting their stuff stolen right out of Hawkins, a girl got her hard drive stolen along with some other stuff in Chaplin, you think that someone would see them or something.”

The Norwich ring itself represents the honor  Norwich cadets try to uphold. But that was little consolation to Norwich senior John Cooper, 22, a construction management major from Niskayuna, N.Y. He put his ring down at the Rustic Sports Bar’s pool table while he was playing, looked down briefly, and just like the ski gear, it had disappeared.

“Literally everyone in there went to this school, maybe a couple of locals,” said Cooper. “If it was somebody in the corps that took it, I’d be beyond furious. I’d be ashamed.”

Felicia Levesque, 21, a senior accounting major and former honor chair from Nashua, N.H., lives in Hawkins and now questions leaving even her wet boots outsider her door to dry. The trust built up by the honor code was definitely affected by the crimes committed on campus lately.

Both students filed police reports for their stolen items. “Student life, student affairs, commandants office, all those folks are looking at it,” said Abraham referring to incident reports filled out on campus.

“There was nothing else I could do,” said Guinen about filling out the police report. Hoping the equipment shows up, “is all I can do at this point,” he said.

Guinen and Cooper have checked frequently online for their stolen items. They have searched on Craigslist, eBay, and pawn shops. Guinen has even contacted local ski shops and told them to “keep an eye out.”

“It’s very disheartening knowing that we have an honor code and everyone goes to the training regarding the code,” said Levesque. She is currently the honor committee’s training officer.

“It’s something that people trust in and believe in and if other people aren’t following it, then it’s hard to have trust in it,” she said.

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