Stolen laptop returned by thief

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By Leslie Walker

A laptop and backpack stolen from a lab in the Rogers Communication Centre last Wednesday March 7 have been returned.

Dan Westell, a part-time journalism professor, was talking to a student in his office when the thefts took place in his classroom, RCC 187. The rest of his first-year reporting class was out working on an assignment.

Westell’s student’s backpack was taken, as well as the laptop of a visiting professor. Tanya Fermin-Poppleton, the manager of Ryerson’s Security and Emergency Services, said that security dealt with the matter and did a search of the area.

“My student was in here five minutes, so whoever pinched that stuff had a five minute window,” said Westell.

He suggests that the thief might have been walking around the building looking for empty rooms, ready to grab whatever they saw. He says they might have seen university students as an easy target because they tend to be careless about their belongings.

“This is not Ocean’s Eleven, you know — high-tech, well-planned theft,” he said. “This strikes me as a theft of opportunity.”

Fred Vallance-Jones, a visiting professor from King’s College, had left his laptop set up in the same room where he was about to teach. He left the room for a couple minutes and it was gone.

“I’ve left things in those classrooms hundreds of times,” said the former Ryerson professor. “[But] it’s downtown Toronto, I shouldn’t have been shocked.”

This is the third laptop that’s been stolen from an office or classroom space this week. The other two were stolen from a locked PhD student office in Eric Palin Hall. After security investigated it was discovered a master key had been lost.

According to Fermin- Poppleton, extra security measures are already built into protocol. Security does extra checks of areas where thefts occur.

“Our priority is to patrol all areas of campus and when possible make staff, faculty and students aware of ways to minimize thefts,” she said.

Westell finds it disappointing that this is happening at Ryerson. The incident is the first theft he’s heard of in the RCC since he began working at the university 10 years ago.

“You think that if the university was just full of scholars and allegedly high-minded people, that this stuff wouldn’t happen, but I’m sure it happens all the time. This one just happened to happen at Ryerson in RCC 187,” he said.

The backpack and laptop have since been turned in to security and returned to their owners.

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