Student wallets stolen

By Rachel Cross | 12/5/12 6:53pm


Securing your belongings may be the last of your worries when running from class to class. But the less conscious students are about securing their items, the higher the risk of falling victim to theft.

From the end of September to the end of October, an individual stole five wallets from Grand Valley State University students who didn’t bolt their lockers in the men’s locker room of the Fieldhouse Arena.

Capt. Brandon DeHaan, assistant director of the Grand Valley Police Department, said the individual who stole the wallets used cash inside them and had charged credit cards, as well.

“The person who stole the items is not currently a GVSU student, but is familiar with the GVSU community,” DeHaan said.

DeHaan said the arraignment date for the person who stole the wallets will be next year, and that these larcenies were crimes of opportunity.

In addition, he said GVPD encourages people to secure all their belongings.

Some of the common items within the stolen wallets included student IDs, licenses, credit cards, bank statements and health cards. Students missing these items must contact different organizations like the Secretary of State, social security, credit card companies, and so on to let them know about their loss. They can then take the necessary steps to prevent the person who stole the information from stealing their identity.

“It can be a very daunting process to connect to all these different organizations,” DeHaan said. “Your identity is stolen and the person can pose as you and set up accounts with specific information that one had in their wallet.”

He said people should also never carry a social security card in their wallets because this drives thefts.

“For the most part, we have an excellent student body, where the vast majority of students act and behave very well and don’t engage in larcenies or bad behavior,” DeHaan said. “However, occasionally we get people, because of crime of opportunity, that engage in bad behavior.”

He added that while it only takes a moment to lock a locker, over 60 percent of larcenies are due to crimes of opportunity.
Kate Harmon, associate director of athletic and recreation facilities, said the Fieldhouse is a high usage building by students, which in turn increases the number of thefts.

She said that last year there were a total of 15,000 different students that used the recreation center, and that they usually see over 330,000 visits in one year.

“There are lots of people that use our services and all it takes is one person to steal,” Harmon said.

In order to prevent these thefts within the locker room, the recreation center has a number of locks that students can check out for free with their student ID if they don’t want to purchase a lock, Harmon said.

“We started (giving out locks) this past summer,” she said. “Students now have options in securing their stuff if they don’t want to spend six dollars on a lock.”

She added that a high majority of students are taking advantage of the lock service, and that the center has been running out, especially during its busy times. The center recently purchased an additional order of locks.

“We have fresh signage that promotes awareness of locking up items,” Harmon said. “We encourage our staff in also suggesting to students to lock up their stuff with our locks.”

Harmon said the location of the locker rooms are easier to access for any person in the community because there are different entrances, like in the pool deck and two entrances in the hallway within the Fieldhouse. These easy to access entrances are all the more reason for students to take extra precautionary measures in securing their belongings.

She added that the theft issue is not new, and that a couple years ago the men’s locker room was renovated to make it more open and less secluded, thus reducing the likelihood of theft.

“The lockers before the renovation were installed in the 80s, and they bent to the point where people could bend them and break in even if the locker was locked,” Harmon said. “We got some dollars put into new lockers with the highest durability brand that you can buy, and we also reorganized the locker room rows to open up a line perimeter of the lockers so it’s more open. The rows of lockers allowed secluded thefts to occur more, and this reorganization has dramatically reduced issues of thefts.”

If you, or someone you know has lost items due to larceny, call the GVPD at 616-331-3255. In addition, call the Fieldhouse at 616-331-8940 for more information on recieving a free lock to secure your items.

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