By Jeff Lagerquist
The solution to locker break-ins at Ryerson is simple: don’t use a locker if you value your belongings.
“One piece of advice we have for students is don’t put anything of value in your locker,” said Imre Juurlink, security supervisor.
There have already been 28 break-ins reported this year, with thieves mostly targeting the secluded alcoves in Kerr Hall and the Victoria Building. No arrests have been made yet.
Locker thieves are acting and dressing like students to keep a low profile around campus, making it difficult for security to stay on top of the problem.
“We haven’t had a single suspicious person reported. To me this indicates that it’s someone who looks like they fit in, probably dressed like a student,” Juurlink said.
Some thieves are using the steady flow of student traffic to their advantage, watching for unattended laptops and cell phones, or students filling lockers with valuables.
Rizwan Rajabali had $3,250 worth of belongings stolen from a locker on the first floor of Kerr Hall West on Oct. 4. According to security, the break-in happened between 11:35 a.m and 12:15 p.m. There were no signs of forced entry on the locker. Rajabali’s lock was nowhere to be found.
“It seems to be happening in the daytime,” Juurlink said, who notes that breaking a lock is fairly easy. Several how-to guides to breaking a lock with something as simple as a pop can can be found on YouTube.
“We’re not looking for someone carrying around a big toolbox,” she said. In some cases thieves have even removed hinges and latches on which the lock is actually placed in order to get lockers open.
Hanah Abbasi was surprised to hear about the number of break-ins on campus. The 20-year-old international economics student refuses to leave anything more than her jacket in a locker. “I don’t pay $200 per book to have them stolen. I’d rather carry my things around,” she said.
“I think security is doing a decent job,” said Damian Pajak, also an international economics student. “The reality of downtown Toronto probably presents a great deal of [security] challenges,” he said.
Theft at Ryerson is nothing new. Jeremy Weintraub, 25, was charged with seven counts of theft and four counts of breaking and entering after a campus crime spree that ended last March.
“It’s not the person from last year. We know he’s not living in Toronto anymore,” Juurlink said.
Locker security may become a dead issue for students and security in the future. “Most universities are moving away from having lockers in their buildings,” Juurlink said.
Ian Hamilton, director of campus planning and facilities, said that some lockers are disappearing, but not because of security issues.
“Sometimes they [lockers] are taken offline if we need to repurpose the space. We don’t have a program to remove lockers for security reasons,” he said.
Five ways to keep your locker safe
Even though you’ve got yourself a locker, your valuables may still be at risk. In some reported cases the lock itself is being bypassed through the removal of the door latches that the actual lock is placed through. Here are some things to remember that could help you keep your items safe.
1. Ryerson security recommends that you do not keep anything valuable, such as a laptop, wallet or text book in your locker for long periods of time.
2. Register your locker with your program’s department every year. This makes sure that your name is joined with the locker so no one else can put a lock on it.
3. Adding a log-in password to your laptop may help in recovering your computer if it is taken. Keeping copies of serial numbers at home is a useful idea.
4. Write your name and email address inside the cover of all your text books. If you fall victim to a theft of a text book, check the used book rooms surrounding Ryerson to see if they end up there. Don’t bother checking the Ryerson Used Book Room, though, as to sell a book require identification and are sold on commission.
5. Security are on campus for a reason. Report any suspicious behaviour, such as anyone using a tool to open a locker, to security at 416-979- 5040.
Photo: Lauren Strapagiel