Laptop thefts target video modules, memory cards; cost reaches $1,300

Nov. 23-Dec. 6, 2015

Kyle Guthrie
[email protected]

On Nov. 4, the Information Technology office sent out an email to all UCCS email recipients detailing a wave of laptop thefts that have taken place on campus.

The email said the laptops were owned by UCCS, and that IT was working closely with the UCCS Police Department to find the perpetrators responsible for the thefts.

According to Brian McPike, executive director of Public Safety, it is not just UCCS-owned laptops that have been disappearing on campus.

“It is mainly student (laptops),” McPike said, “and it is usually a laptop. I don’t think we have ever taken a report about a computer tower or monitor being stolen.”

McPike also detailed that the thefts occurred when the laptops were unattended by users, even for a brief moment.

“A lot of times they will be out of the library, or Columbine or someplace where (the laptops) would be an easy target,” McPike said. “Somebody will walk away from their computer… and they’ll be taken.”

McPike also explained the locations of the incidents.

“The thefts reportedly occurred from student-related lab areas in Centennial Hall, the El Pomar Library and Breckenridge Hall,” McPike said.

The police department completed a Criminal Theft report on Oct. 28.

McPike said that even though laptops are being stolen, it is the components of the laptops that the perpetrators are after.

“One thing I learned is that this wasn’t the theft of computers themselves, it is the theft of parts from within the computers, such as memory modules, video cards, etc.,” McPike said. “There was no personal or sensitive information on the machines, therefore, there was no sensitive data breach or compromise.”

And while the cost of the thefts has reached approximately $1,300, McPike pointed out that the crimes are considered a misdemeanor due to the overall value of the parts reported stolen.

“The value of the stolen parts would need to exceed $2,000 to move into the felony range.”

Rachel Stevenson, a senior English literature major, is aware that her laptop may be stolen.

“I would never leave my laptop unattended on campus, ever,” Stevenson said. “I always keep it inside my backpack unless I’m using it.”

Other students, such as junior business management major Aaron Allen, utilize safeties such as hidden laptop compartments to keep their computers safe.

“If I really need it, I take it in my backpack,” Allen said. “I have a little pocketed slot for it. But I don’t usually need it when I come to school.”

While laptops left alone on campus are susceptible, McPike said simple precautions such as locking doors can help prevent theft.

“Due to the open nature of the computer labs, we could determine that there was no forced entry (burglary), which may have also classified it as a felony crime,” McPike said. “We continue to monitor and look into any new leads or incidents.”