Thefts lead to tighter security at home games

Security at home games will be tightened after members of a visiting sports team were caught on videotape stealing cameras from unlocked lockers last week, Head of Security James Crawford said Wednesday.

Crawford said a group of approximately four boys, wearing their team jerseys, went around locker areas opening lockers without locks and took three cameras from the lockers near the library. Crawford suspects that students from the same school stole a laptop from a backpack in Taper Gym.

“It was during the same time period,” Crawford said. “We had items that day taken from that school. Are we looking in their direction? Yes, but so is [their] school. Because if that happened, then maybe a group before them, or maybe the same group, was down there, too.”

Crawford said the thefts prompted the security team to implement a new policy that bans visiting sports team members from walking around campus. Team members waiting for a team of the same sport to finish a game must now stay in the venue and watch.

“We have a lot of other schools that are curious about our campus – we have a beautiful campus – so they like to look around,” Crawford said. “But we’ve never had a problem with that. I think [the suspects] were just a bunch of opportunists that made their school look bad, and took advantage of our students being honest leaving their lockers open.”

The morning after the cameras were taken, Katie Hohl ’15 and Clara McCarthy ’15 discovered them missing from their lockers and reported the losses to security.

Security personnel went through videotapes and recognized the school jerseys the boys were wearing. Crawford contacted Head of Athletics Terry Barnum, who then contacted the coach of the opposing school. The coach identified all of the boys involved with the thefts, and recovered two cameras.

“The students that had removed those items are being disciplined by [their] school, and are in complete cooperation with their administrator and head of school, who are going to deal with them swiftly and harshly,” Crawford said.

A third camera was reported missing Tuesday afternoon. Crawford said security went back to the tapes, and discovered that about half an hour after the first group went through Mudd lockers, one individual came back and “went right to the other locker, and took her camera.” The camera was recovered shortly after.

So far, no police reports have been filed.

“Honestly, I just wanted my camera back,” Hohl said. “I feel lucky that it was even located, because I had anticipated that I would never see it again. I just hope that the person will be more respectful of other people’s things in the future, and I hope that other Harvard-Westlake kids learn from this that as much as we feel like we are in this safe environment at school, weird people still walk around here all the time and take advantage of us.”

Crawford stressed that a lock on a locker is key to prevent thefts like this one from occurring.

“If you have a lock, do not leave it hanging unlocked,” Crawford said. “Lock it. Do not leave your locker unlocked, especially if it has high-value things. If you don’t want to get it stolen, lock your locker, please.”

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