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Two thefts in two days at The Catalyst lead to security changes

By Josh Scott

A Ryerson research space in the Rogers Communications Centre (RCC) was broken into twice in the last two weeks, causing Ryerson to replace the building’s south doors in an effort to make them more secure.

A laptop, desktop speakers and several pieces of audio recording equipment were stolen during two separate break-and-enters into locked offices inside The Catalyst on the second floor of the RCC.

The Catalyst Manager Natalie Ramtahal informed users of the space of the thefts on Feb. 11 via email, mentioning that Toronto Police Services (TPS) and Ryerson Security had been notified.

“I can assure the campus community that we are working swiftly and productively with campus security and TPS to address the issue,” Catalyst director Greg Elmer wrote in an email. He declined to comment further.

“The individual gained access to the RCC perimeter…gained access to the Catalyst’s outer doors…and then pried the [Catalyst] office doors open,” Faculty of Communication and Design’s (FCAD) director of marketing and strategic development Rana Latif wrote in an email to The Eye. 

FCAD and Ryerson Security are still investigating how this happened. Latif said the first break-in occurred sometime over the Feb. 8-9 weekend, and the second on Feb. 10. Both incidents occurred after-hours.

“A person of interest relating to these events was arrested on campus”

“FCAD is working with security to help prevent further incidents,” said Latif. She added that they are considering “adding strike plates to certain doors” to make them more secure.

“Steps have been taken to harden the known point of entry into the Catalyst, which will hopefully prevent future break-ins,” said Latif. “In addition, security and [Facilities Management and Development] are currently…in the process of replacing the south main entrance door into the RCC, which was also determined to have been an issue for after-hours access into the building.”

Toronto police were on-scene the days of the thefts. “Security [has] reported that a person of interest relating to these events was arrested on campus and is currently in [police] custody,” said Latif.

The Catalyst at FCAD contains lab spaces, meeting rooms and workspaces for scholarly research and creative activities, according to its website. It houses offices for over a dozen residents, including the Centre for Fashion Diversity and Social Change and the Global Experiential Sport Lab.

In an email, Ryerson’s Manager of Security and Emergency Services Gillian D’Agostino said she was unable to comment on the incidents as the investigation by police is ongoing.  

“Authorization is determined by faculties and program administrators based on the required access to curriculum-specific support, services and equipment that the students, faculty and staff in their program might require,” she said. “Some employees also have access during this time to complete their work duties.”

The Catalyst is exclusive to graduate students, researchers and visiting scholars. After-hours access requires a registered keycard.

“Residents and community members—please do not leave any valuables unattended or left out on desks,” stated Ramtahal. “If you have an office, lock away all valuables…or better yet, do not leave them here.”

Ramtahal also advised Catalyst users to not allow others into the space after-hours. 

This follows November 2019 accessibility changes to the RCC building that enable entry only by OneCard between 7 and 10 p.m. on weekdays.  After 10 p.m. only those with FCAD authorization on their OneCard can enter. 

In response to a question regarding whether there has been an increase in the number of similar incidents at the RCC since then, D’Agostino said that data is not currently available. 

“We are four months into the year-long pilot project and we will be compiling comparative statistics for review and evaluation at the end of the pilot,” said D’Agostino.

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