The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Security has new leads in search for thief

Security continues to investigate the recent series of thefts in Chalmers primarily affecting the cheerleading squad.

After a confirmed seven cheerleaders’ valuables were stolen during several practices in Chalmers, security began to adjust and add high definition cameras in the hallway to investigate the theft further.

Following the Chronicle’s reporting of these thefts last week, several members of the community have given security new leads as to who the thief may be, including students and other non-faculty or staff members of the community, Head of Security Jim Crawford said. Security will continue to fact check before they interview suspects.

“We are going to still look into this until we’ve got [it] figured out,” Crawford said.

Rachel Grode ’19 was the first to lose an item when she noticed after practice that her necklace had gone missing from her bag. Eden Sanderson’s ’18 phone went missing Jan. 23 but was found days later in the gender neutral bathroom wiped and without a SIM card, she said.

“It makes me feel unsafe,” Sanderson said. “It’s scary to me that someone has my SIM card. It’s troubling that someone would take it.”

Following reports of thefts in the hallway in front of the dance studio, security reviewed tapes from the cameras in Chalmers during times of the practices in question, but the bags were out of view.

Next, they went to the cameras outside Chalmers during the time period of interest in an attempt to identify people entering the hallway they didn’t recognize, but there was still nothing out of the ordinary, Crawford said. Crawford also watched the bags himself but saw no suspicious activity.

Given the ambiguity of this case, Interim Head of Upper School Liz Resnick allowed the cheer team to leave their bags in her office while they practice to prevent further theft.

In a poll sent out by the Chronicle, 81 percent of the students who responded said they feel their belongings are safe on campus, but this might not entirely be the case, Crawford said.

“The school has told everybody, the parents and students, that you can drop your stuff where you want, and nothing’s going to walk away,” Crawford said. “And that’s just not true anymore. You just can’t do that.”

Despite the repetitive nature and apparent targeting of these crimes, this series of thefts isn’t far out of the ordinary, Crawford said. Just this year, Crawford received 10 missing item reports and has investigated each one at length with his security team.

The specific thefts in Chalmers, though, have caught the attention of the administration. Part of what makes these seemingly targeted offenses so alarming is the public, “brazen” nature of the crime and the repetition, Upper School Deans Department Head Beth Slattery said.

There are cameras in areas around campus prone to theft, including the quad, Taper Gymnasium and now the music hallway in Chalmers.

While theft is relatively unavoidable, students on campus could certainly take preventative action by protecting targeted items like laptops, Crawford said.

“It’s too bad that you couldn’t just leave your stuff around, but at the same time maybe we’ve gotten a little complacent,” Slattery said.

Students taking choir classes in Chalmers were asked to move their backpacks out of the hallway as an extra precaution, but these thefts were relatively unknown to the student body as a whole.

There isn’t really a protocol for notifying the student body in a situation like this; students in immediate danger are usually the only ones notified, Chaplain J. Young said.

In a poll sent out by the Chronicle, 96 percent of students said they would like the school to notify the student body when there is a string of thefts on campus.

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Security has new leads in search for thief