Multiple thefts on ‘Nova’s campus cause concern

Tara Powers

The Department of Public Safety notified the Villanova community of two recent on-campus thefts by e-mail the afternoon of Dec. 5.

Between 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Dec. 4, separate instances of stolen laptop computers were reported from Belle Aire Terrace in Connelly Center and the University Shop in Kennedy Hall.

The computers were taken from students’ backpacks, according to Robert Wimer, an investigator from Public Safety who is looking into the incidents.

The e-mail alert was sent out in response to the thefts, warning students to keep a close eye on their valuables and to contact Public Safety with any details about the investigation.

The alert included pictures and a description of the suspect identified in the case.

“We have received some information from students who reported seeing him on campus that day,” said David Tedjeske, director of Public Safety. “We’re hoping that students remember the flyer and call if he comes back again.”

Both cases have been turned over to the detective division of the Radnor Police Department, according to Wimer and Tedjeske.

“We do have pictures of what we believe is the suspect,” said Lt. Anthony Antonini III of the Radnor Police Department, referring to the images included in the e-mail sent out to the Villanova community.

In that e-mail, the suspect was described as being “an African-American male between the ages of 30 and 39, approximately six feet tall, medium build” with “missing or damaged front teeth.”

He was wearing a plaid shirt, jeans and sneakers at the time of the theft.

Wimer noted that the other picture, in which the subject is dressed differently, was taken during a different visit to the University Shop during which no theft was committed.

Representatives from the University Shop declined to speak about the matter since Public Safety took control of the investigation.

While Antonini did say that there are ways of potentially locating a suspect such as this one – if the laptops were sold in a pawn shop, found to be stolen and traced back to the thief, for instance – he observed that, more often than not, the suspect is not found.

“If students or staff recognize the person, they can call us or Public Safety, and they can do so anonymously if they wish,” Antonini said.

These two thefts come after several thefts from the Pavilion were reported earlier this year. Wimer and Tedjeske emphasized that the incidents in Kennedy and Connelly are unrelated to those in the Pavilion. No e-mail alert was sent out about the past thefts, although the incidents were reported in The Villanovan’s Public Safety blotter.

An e-mail was warranted in this case, according to Tedjeske, because the two thefts occurred on the same day and the objects stolen were of a much higher value.

However, freshman Nicholas Cipiti also had his laptop stolen from the men’s locker room of the Pavilion during a men’s club water polo practice at the end of October.

“I left my stuff in a locker that wasn’t locked, and when I came back, my laptop was gone and the contents of my backpack were all over the place,” Cipiti said. “And the kid whose locker was next to mine had his phone stolen.”

The thefts were reported to Public Safety, and Radnor Police were brought in because a computer was stolen, according to Cipiti.

“Most of the time I bring my stuff into the pool area with me,” Cipiti said. “But I had my computer with me, and I didn’t want it to get wet. I left it in the locker, and I didn’t even think.”

Another reason Public Safety cited for choosing to send an e-mail in light of the more recent thefts was the chance that the higher visibility of these thefts would give them a better chance of getting information.

“We didn’t have a description to put on,” Tedjeske said of the lack of information available in the Pavilion thefts. “Here we not only have a description but also video clips to put on the alert.”

The Dec. 4 thefts also occurred in a more public area, while those in the Pavilion took place in the men’s locker room and the stairwell where athletes leave their bags.

“They go through bags and take anything valuable – wallets, small electronic devices,” Tedjeske said.

One bag was recovered from the Pavilion thefts.

In light of recent events, Public Safety is urging students to be more cautious with their personal possessions.

“Especially at this time of year, unattended bags are a bad idea,” Tedjeske said. “We want students to report suspicious actions to us. You can report something that just doesn’t ‘look right.’ “