By Sean Wetselaar
A recent string of locker thefts has prompted a special investigation by Intercon Security at Ryerson, and a warning by the Security Investigations Office that lockers are not as secure as some believe.
Although “locker thefts have been going on forever,” according to Tanya Fermin-Poppleton, manager of security and emergency services at Ryerson, a new trend of thefts is of concern to the organization.
Starting this past fall, a number of lockers have been found empty, with no sign of damage on the lock or forced entry. Students return to their locker to find the lock re-attached, but their belongings missing, security said.
The thefts have been largely concentrated in Kerr Hall, one of several buildings in Ryerson to play host to numerous banks of lockers. Reports of compromised lockers with no valuables taken suggest that the thefts do not target individuals, but are mostly random, said Keith Christie, program director of the security investigations office at Intercon.
The targets of the break-ins appear to be mostly electronics.
One officer at Intercon has been put in charge of the investigation since the fall, though Fermin-Poppleton said that locker break-ins are always on their radar. She added that security is looking into possible connections with high school thefts in collaboration with Toronto Police and other universities, though very few still have lockers in any substantial amount.
Christie said lockers are not a secure place to store valuables, especially expensive electronics.
“One of the things we always try to tell [students] is don’t put your valuables in lockers,” Christie said. “The way I look at it is that it’s almost like a sense of false security to have [expensive electronics]… if your goal is to protect that with a three-dollar lock, that just doesn’t seem to go hand in hand.”
Breaking into a lock is not difficult.
A few minutes on YouTube can give you a quick tutorial, and some locks are so cheap a bit of force can simply pop them open. Christie advises a high quality lock, but even those have their limitations.
“Seasoned criminals, if they want a way in, are always going to find a way in,” Keith said.
Sidney Kanning, a second-year criminal justice student have experienced first hand of the risks involved in using lockers.
“I probably wouldn’t want to leave anything valuable here,” she said. “I’ve had things stolen out of lockers before.”
This is not the first time such crimes have occurred on campus.
Three years ago a man was arrested for locker thefts, Christie said, and several years ago security”took investigative measures” to stop a string of thefts.
“It’s a difficult case because it’s potentially more than just one person doing it,” he said. “It’s downtown Toronto. The building is accessible, there’s hundreds of lockers within Kerr Hall.”
So far, no suspects have been identified.