By Drew Halfnight
Ryerson’s School of Image Arts is reeling after someone pulled off the biggest theft in recent university history at the building last Friday night.
A camera and accessories worth an estimated $19,500 disappeared overnight from a digital printing centre on the second floor of the Image Arts building at 122 Bond St.
While no suspects have been named, some students believe the theft was perpetrated by a community member with access to room 215, where the expensive equipment was stored.
“There was no sign of forced entry. You need [two] keys to get in,” said Daniel Wilson, a third-year Image Arts student. “It seemed like an insider job.”
Wilson works in the equipment rental room in the basement of Image Arts. He was one of the first to hear about the theft on Saturday morning when print centre attendant Sara Salahub discovered the equipment was missing.
Salahub, a former Ryerson student, declined to comment about the theft until after the police investigation.
Only faculty members, administrators and grad students have key-card access to the building overnight.
“The thing that’s most upsetting is, how did this happen?” said Don Snyder, chair of Image Arts.
The most valuable item stolen was a vintage 4X5 Sinar camera that Snyder called “irreplaceable” and compared to a scientific telescope in price.
A call was made from the Image Arts building to Ryerson security at 9:40 a.m. Police arrived soon after, took a statement from Salahub, cordoned off the area with caution tape, and began dusting for fingerprints.
Wilson felt Salahub handled the ordeal calmly. “She was most shaken up about the fact that the place was ransacked,” he said.
Snyder said program director of photography Wayne Pittendreigh expressed a similar concern. “Wayne had the feeling that whoever took this did some advanced planning and had some knowledge of the equipment,” he said.
“If it was someone somehow connected to the university, and we can have them come forward, that’s obviously a happier outcome,” Snyder said.
Ryerson security manager Lawrence Robinson said that it was too early to speculate about suspects or motives.
Snyder said police believe the lock on room 215 could have been picked by someone without a key.
He also mentioned police will likely review Jorgenson Hall security cameras, which may show the thief leaving by a fire escape on the northwest corner of the building.
“Theft has always been a problem here,” said Gaelan Cormier, a fourth-year photography student who’s been working in the building for three years.
Cormier was not at all surprised that someone was able to breach security with such apparent ease. “They walk through the studios, and if you don’t watch your stuff it gets taken,” she said.
“I’d rather not think that someone in this school would do that. It’s pretty tight. We all know each other,” she said. There are about 400 students in Image Arts.