Accidentally recorded Stauffer theft goes viral

Queen’s student uses Facebook to retrieve stolen belongings

Stauffer Library.
Image supplied by: Journal File Photo
Stauffer Library.

It’s not unheard of that unattended items in Stauffer Library get stolen, but it’s rare that the thief is caught by a laptop webcam.

On Nov. 6, Daniel Hu, ArtSci ’16, stepped away from his laptop, leaving it charging on the floor for a moment while he filmed a short promotional video on the ground floor of Stauffer Library. While he was away, his belongings — including his mobile phone — were taken at 5:30 p.m.

Hu said a library employee approached him and told him that a man had walked away with his phone and computer charger. The employee also informed Hu that she suspected that the man was intoxicated and had approached thief before the theft to see if he was alright.

Hu told The Journal he was shocked by the incident.

“He could see that I was within viewing distance of him. I just wasn’t looking at him at the time,” Hu said.

Only after Hu had left the library did he realize that he was missing more than just his chargers. But even more surprising, Hu realized that he had left his laptop’s webcam on during the incident. 

While the laptop was recording, it had captured the thief taking Hu’s cellphone, wallet, Nikon camera lens, camera charger and cellphone charger.

“It’s really ironic that it would happen [while the laptop was recording],” he said.

Hu said he reached out to Campus Security & Emergency Services and the Kingston Police immediately after the incident. Campus Security told him there wasn’t much they could do, while the Kingston Police said they would monitor the case, he said.

Wanting immediate results, Hu decided to take matters into his own hands.

He posted the video of the incident on the “Lost and Found Queen’s” Facebook page in an effort to identify the thief.

“PLEASE HELP me identify this thief! If you recognize this person or have any information, please contact me or Kingston Police!” Hu wrote in the Facebook post.

To Hu’s surprise, the video went viral within the hour. Dubbed by social media as the “Stauffer Thief”, Hu received messages from a Queen’s student identifying the thief from the video.

The Journal has chosen not to include the identity of the thief due to potential ramifications for the individual.

Within hours of posting the video, the thief reached out to Hu to apologize. According to Hu, the thief offered to return the student’s belongings if Hu removed the video from Facebook in return.

But even after Hu got in contact with the thief, social media platforms — including Facebook, Reddit and YikYak — had become preoccupied with the event. 

Several users posted comments insulting the thief, while others suggested that users send a link of the video to the thief’s past and present employers.

Joel Keenleyside, manager of Campus Security Operations, told The Journal in an email that he couldn’t comment on the incident.

“Campus Security and Emergency Services cannot comment at this time, as Kingston Police is currently investigating the matter,” he wrote.

Albert Kwon, AMS Judicial Affairs Director, also said he couldn’t comment on whether this specific case was being addressed by his office, but told The Journal that their non-academic discipline system only investigates cases if a complaint is filed.

“One of the pillars of the AMS system is that we’re complaint driven, so we don’t start any proceedings unless we’ve received a complaint,” he said.

Hu says that he won’t be pressing charges, as the matter has been resolved privately between him and the accused thief.

— With files from Jacob Rosen


crime, Stauffer Library, theft

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