‘Novans out of excuses to be naive about theft

Bewildering stacks of books, crammed aisles, seemingly interminable lines. The start-of-classes chaos at the campus bookstore is for many Villanova students the most hectic experience of the semester.

Now, as the book buying for this semester winds down, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the frenzy is out of control. This week, Public Safety reported that between Jan. 18 and Jan. 20, 22 students’ wallets were stolen from the bookstore, presumably from the cubby area where customers are compelled to leave any bags.

Obviously, banning bags from the store is a security measure; shoplifting could potentially run rampant in a store where just about every shopper comes in with a backpack or tote. However, a series of 22 thefts in a span of 72 hours – allegedly by the same person – suggests that the sweatshirts, caps and school supplies in the bookstore are probably a lot safer than the cell phones, laptops, Wildcards and cash sitting just steps from the entrance of the bookstore.

The bookstore does post a guard near the cubby area, so it’s hard to understand how the thefts occurred. But it’s clear things need to change to protect students who agree to follow the rules and surrender their personal belongings.

Perhaps the key to preventing further incidents in the bookstore is to station more guards in the store during periods of high customer traffic. Certainly, offering secure lockers for customers would alleviate the problem (the bookstore does have lockers, but using them costs a nominal fee, and many students don’t carry change or cash during the school day). But augmenting current security is only half the answer.

Many of us have to admit that we’ve always thought of Villanova as immune to theft. When our parents voice concerns about us propping our doors open or throwing our coats and purses down at a party, many of us have responded to them by rolling our eyes and responding with something like “This is Villanova, Mom, no one steals.” Few of us think twice about leaving our belongings on a cafeteria table while we pick up food or in a Bartley study room while we run to the restroom. Unfortunately, it seems that we can’t afford to think like that anymore – and, let’s face it, it’s not a great habit to get into for the future. When it comes to avoiding theft, keeping valuables close or locked up is the best defense – no matter where you are.