An unattended laptop being stolen. Kassandra Neranjan/THE VARSITY

Despite 10 reported thefts at the University of Toronto’s libraries this semester, the overall number of thefts on campus has been on the decline since 2015. There was a decrease of 22 thefts in January 2016, and a decrease of six thefts in February 2015.

Lari Langford, head of Access and Information Services at Robarts, stated that Robarts has the highest traffic of all U of T libraries.

“It’s the most used library, so you’re going to have a higher incidence [of theft] because of the higher use. Bottom line is that if you go to the other libraries on this campus you won’t find the percentage of people that you find at Robarts,” she said.

Robarts has implemented several new initiatives that have resulted in a lower theft rate at the library, including the Stop Campus Theft campaign, a staffing service called iStaff, and a new service that lends out laptop locks to students.

The Stop Campus Theft campaign was launched in August of 2014. It involved postering the campus with messages that sought to heighten awareness of the theft problem and encourage students to consider taking precautionary measures.

At Robarts specifically, two other preventative initiatives exist. A new staffing service called iStaff consists of a group of staff members that make their way throughout the building, never fixed at one station. Students at Robarts may also borrow laptop locks from the course reserves desk. These devices enable the user to lock their laptop to their study desk.

Langford believes that the combination of these three measures is the key to the decreasing theft rates. “I think the whole campaign discouraged [people], people did get arrested. The reality is maybe we’ve made an environment that is a little less attractive to professional thieves because of our emphasis on community policing and so on that maybe they’ve gone elsewhere,” she said.

“Almost all thefts within our libraries are laptops, smart phones, etc. that are left unattended,” said associate director Sam D’Angelo of Campus Police. “Students should never leave their valuables unattended even to take a quick washroom break. It only takes a couple seconds for a thief to steal.”

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