Cook Hall crime prompts discussion of theft prevention
Photo courtesy of Adriana Gavilanes In 2019, Fountain outside of Cook Hall on a sunny day.

Cook Hall crime prompts discussion of theft prevention

On Friday, Nov. 22, students, faculty and staff received an email from the Office of Communications and Marketing informing community members of a series of credit card thefts at Cook Hall on Nov. 19. Since this alert, many individuals on campus have been left wondering why these thefts occurred, what exactly happened by the bay that afternoon and what to do to prevent theft during the upcoming holiday months. Although the case currently remains under investigation, New College Chief of Police Michael Kessie was able to offer some insight on the series of events that transpired before, during and after the crime. 

“Credit cards were removed from unlocked offices and almost immediately used at locations near the UTC Mall on University Parkway to make multiple purchases before the cards were deactivated,” Kessie said. “We have video from one of the stores and it appears unknown persons seen in Cook Hall by a staff member prior to the theft may have been involved in the purchases.”

This case has since been transferred to the Sarasota Sheriff’s office, where New College Training Coordinator and Case Follow-Up Officer John Chirgwin will be continuing the investigation. Kessie stressed that if community members witness any crime or suspicious activity on campus they should seek out Campus Police immediately.

“Campus Police will assist community members with reporting crimes to off-campus law enforcement,” Kessie said. “The key is to report as soon as possible.”

Although this credit card theft was out of the ordinary for New College and likely will not become a recurring problem, Kessie stressed that bike theft, which has historically been a major issue, is something students should be thinking more about when bringing a bike to campus.

“During the year and at breaks, locking and registering bikes are important,” Kessie said. “Of the eight bike thefts so far in 2019, seven of the bikes were unlocked and only half were registered with Campus Police.”

To prevent theft over the holidays, make sure to follow this set of tips provided by Campus Police:

  • During winter break, don’t leave valuables on campus
  • Lock your offices and/or vehicles
  • Don’t leave valuables in your vehicle in plain view
  • Lock packages in the trunk of the car
  • Park in well-lit areas
  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Have keys ready before you get into your car

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