Laptop thefts ‘not unusual’

By on April 1, 2009

Three cases of laptop theft have occurred on the Mount Carmel campus in the spring 2009 semester, but according to Chief of Security John Twining, there is no serious need to worry.

“This is not something where I’m going to give a timely warning,” Twining said. “Yeah, it happened. But it’s not something that happens so infrequently that I need to put it in MyQ. It happens everywhere. It’s not unusual to have a couple of them stolen over the course of the semester.”

Two of the laptop thefts occurred in academic buildings, one on the Student Center’s second floor, and the other on the second floor of Echlin in a professor’s office.

“They were unlocked rooms,” Twining said. “Someone walked away and left them there, and they came back and the laptops were gone.”

The third laptop was taken from a room in Hill. After leaving the backdoor unlocked one night, junior Jennifer Walts awoke the next morning with her laptop missing.

“I don’t know who stole the laptop, but I felt naive for believing if we left the door open, no one would steal anything from our room,” Walts said. “With such a close-knit community, I think students forget that there are people who do such things.”

Because her computer was not purchased through Quinnipiac, campus security did not play a role in the investigation. They did, however, in the other two. Currently, the investigation is something of a waiting game.

“There’s not a whole lot we can do,” Twining said. “All we know is that they were there, then the person came back and they weren’t. We investigated and found nothing else we could go on. Now we wait for the machine to do its piece.”

The “machine” Twining referred to is Computrace, a BIOS-based agent provided with every Dell computer purchased through Quinnipiac. Once a computer has gone missing or stolen, Quinnipiac alerts the Computrace network operations center (NOC) with the computer’s service tag. Once the computer is logged in to the Internet, it “calls home,” according to Brian Kelly, director of information security and network operations.

Without an Internet connection, however, the computer cannot be tracked down. Such has been the case with the two thefts. As for possible suspects, Twining could only speculate.

“Normally we find that students don’t steal from other students,” Twining said. “In my past life, working in a different university, there were people who financed their education through larceny. I don’t see that here.”

Six thefts occurred in the fall 2008 semester, however none of them took place on the Mount Carmel campus. Another six laptops were thieved in 2007, with four stolen at once during the NFL’s Super Bowl.

“Nothing is ever stolen from a locked room,” Twining said in regards to safety. “That’s my feeling. All we can do is provide students with a way of securing their rooms. If you use some method to defeat it, then I can’t help you.”

Twining was comfortable with Quinnipiac’s current safety precautions, recalling a 2002 survey where Quinnipiac was ranked the thirteenth safest school in the country.

“If everybody works hard at being safe, it will be safe,” Twining said. “We break our butts to make it that way.”

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