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December 5, 2013

Opportunity theft on the rise at CSU

By Gabriel Hart

Opportunity theft has become a monstrous problem around Cleveland State University. According to campus safety’s crime statistics reports, since the beginning of the fall 2013, semester more than 25 cases of opportunity theft have been reported. We see it week after week in the Crime Blotter section of the Cleveland Stater newspaper.

Opportunity theft is when a person sees an easy opportunity to steal something without being caught. For example, a student may leave a book on the table and go to the bathroom, or even to grab a quick drink from Outtakes, at which point another person or student may quickly steal the book and be gone by the time the student returns. This student has now become a victim of opportunity theft.

Not making it any better, Cleveland State is a public campus that is not located in the best of neighborhoods. Students should be extra cautious because random people are able to access the campus and wait for the opportunity to steal to present itself.

Cleveland State University police are well aware of the opportunity theft problem spreading across campus. Damon Vance, the media spokesperson for Cleveland State University, said that most of the opportunity theft occurs in the Recreation Center, because students don’t do things as simple as bringing a lock. Instead, they place their things in a bag, leave it on the side of the gym and all someone has to do is grab it.
“There is a mantra of signs around campus saying ‘put your junk in your trunk’ - that is how we warn students,” Vance said.

Cleveland State student Cornell Ross recalls his experience with opportunity theft just a year ago. He was in the Recreation Center and left his backpack on the side of the basketball court. Ross returned afterward to find that the backpack was missing, along with all of its contents: an iPad that belonged to the school, a cell phone, clothes, shoes, his books and notes for his classes.

In addition to his things being stolen, another student’s iPhone had been stolen from the same area at the same time. Ross and the other student made a police report and informed the school about the property that was stolen from them. As a result Ross had to pay the school $500 for the iPad even though it had been stolen.

“Watch your things, people are always waiting. People will take anything,” is Ross’ message to students.

However, one of the problems might be that many students are not aware that opportunity theft is such a big problem around campus. Cleveland State student Jennifer Longstreet was one of those students.

“What’s opportunity theft?” she asked.

Once explained to her, she said it made sense and that she had heard of numerous cases where students would leave a phone somewhere and when they came back, it was gone.

Cleveland State student Chelsea Reynolds has never herself been a victim of opportunity theft but can recall numerous times when someone asked her to keep an eye on their things while they stepped away for a moment.

“One girl I didn’t even know, she just said ‘hey I’m going to the bathroom think you can watch my stuff?’ and I said yeah,” Reynolds said.

How can this problem be solved? For one, if you’re on campus and you need to step away from your things but don’t feel like packing your whole book bag up and taking it with you, take only what is valuable.

You could also look around and find a familiar face or just a friendly one and ask a fellow student to keep an eye on it, you’ll be right back. In addition, if you see a student leave something behind and a suspicious character, make it a point to make eye contact with the potential thief just to let him know he is seen.

Cleveland State police advise that students should take the proper precautions to protect their things, and they should also keep an eye out for their fellow Vikings’ belongings.