Thoughts On a Recent On-campus Theft Incident

Three weeks ago, my friend got a huge amount of cash and expensive electronic devices stolen from their dorm while they were away and left the door unlocked. Bates College Campus Safety and the Lewiston-Auburn Police Department both filed reports regarding this incident, but half a month has passed, almost everyone has forgotten about it, and the lost items still have yet to be recovered.

With my friend’s consent, I’ve decided to publicize this incident, not in the hope that the lost items will be recovered, but to explore a number of critical concerns that this occurrence has revealed.

First, I want to bring forth the topic of campus safety. According to the data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Lewiston remains the city with one of the highest crime rates in Maine. Our Bates Campus Safety Officers perform a decent job keeping our campus secure. When I return to my dorm at midnight on an empty street, I feel safe because I see campus safety vans are on patrol.

Nonetheless, people in my residence hall still complain of stolen items. Why? Simple answer is that the thieves never get caught. Obviously, it is easier for the Bates Campus Safety Officers to catch someone carrying hard liquor or drugs on the streets than to catch someone who intends to steal or has already stolen things from others. But I think it also highlights the fact that there is a lack of surveillance on campus. In my home country of China, for instance, it is much easier to recover stolen property because of the CCTV almost everywhere. In contrast, the only surveillance cameras in the Bates residence halls are in the Chu and Kalperis Hall stairwells, which are useless.

To make our residence halls a more secure place, I advocate installation of hidden and motion activated surveillance cameras at the entrances to the residence halls, for the purpose of minimizing the crime rates in residence places. These outdoor cameras are not likely to be discovered, and they would not be a violation of students’ privacy. All in all, to make our residence halls a more secure place, I highly urge the installation of hidden and motion-activated cameras at the entrance to the residence halls. Moreover, students should lock their doors whenever possible. As an international student who has lived in the U.S. for only one and a half years, I was utterly shocked by the incident.