JDUC theft raises concerns

The latest in a spate of campus thefts has students and staff looking for ways to improve JDUC security.

Approximately $1,100 in coins was stolen from the Queen’s Medical Outreach (QMO) office sometime between 5:30 p.m. Jan. 25 and 5:30 p.m. Jan. 26.

There was no sign of forced entry.

David Patterson, director of Campus Security, said QMO reported the theft on Jan. 30.

He said the circumstances surrounding the theft presented a number of possible explanations.

“The door may have been left unlocked, the door lock may not have caught properly, [or] someone may have jimmied the door open,” he said. “Sometimes there’s splinters on the wood or on the floor, or if someone’s able to jimmy the door open with a thin piece of metal or a credit card, there may not be splintering of wood.”

Patterson said QMO was asked to submit a report of the incident to the Kingston Police, but neither the police nor Campus Security will be conducting an investigation.

He said no other information has come up on the theft.

“There’s no suspects,” he said. “There’s no other information that’s come forth on this. “I know that they were going to take a look at some better practices on securing of monies, etcetera.”

He said that in the event that the thief had a key to the office, the keying system should be looked at and the possibility of changing the lock to the office should be considered.

QMO member Natalia Novosedlik, ArtSci ’06, said the money stolen had been raised by volunteers at Kingston LCBO locations. The funds were to go towards QMO’s Northern Projects, in which QMO sends eight students to sites in Northern Ontario and Nunavut to teach in schools and work in health centres for six-week periods in the summer.

Novosedlik said that while the students traveling are responsible for their costs, QMO fundraises to offset these costs as much as it can.

Robert Burge, director of the JDUC, said his office is responsible for procuring keys to club space, which they give to the AMS.

He said that while there is a possibility that the theft was committed by someone with a key to the office, he would prefer to think it wasn’t.

“I really can’t think that way,” he said. “I have to think that someone is very good at picking a lock and getting in.”

In principle, Burge said, all key-copying should be done through his office and Physical Plant Services.

“It says ‘do not duplicate’ or ‘do not copy’ on [the key], but there’s probably unscrupulous key copiers out there,” he said. “Anyone can copy a key if they want to.”

Burge said there are zoned master keys that open certain doors in the JDUC, but that his office is aware of everyone who has one.

Raili Giguere, administrative assistant at the AMS front desk, said at the beginning of a school year, club members pay a $10 deposit to take out keys for the year.

She said that while students usually return the key in May, this is not always the case, and some keys are not returned at all.

The locks are not changed when this happens, she said.

“We don’t change the lock after each time because a lot of the students will graduate, they will leave town, they may lose the key,” she said. “We would be constantly changing the locks.”

Giguere said that during the year, any student can sign out a key for a short period of time by leaving his or her student card, although there is no way of knowing if the person is affiliated with the club.

She added that while she is responsible for requests from students for duplication of keys, she could not say how many keys there are for a given office.

“We don’t have an exact inventory of how many keys [we have] for each office,” she said.

Burge said he feels QMO failed to take sufficient precautions to secure their money.

“They should have been more with it [than] to leave money in an unlocked filing cabinet,” he said. “If I have a house party and a bunch of people come over, are you going to leave your valuables out? Probably not.”

Burge said other options were open to the club, such as asking Campus Security to take care of the money, or depositing it directly in the bank.

“They didn’t take the necessary precautions that they probably should have, knowing what they knew about their facility.”

Virissa Lenter, co-director of QMO, said the theft occurred while her group was in the process of implementing greater security measures in the office.

At the time, there was a 24-hour limit on the amount of time money could be left in the office.

Now, she said, QMO has given a list to the AMS of people who are allowed to sign out the key to the office.

As well, the group is having the lock changed and is bringing in a safe.

“We are installing a safe this week that we will use only once we’re confident that the office is secure,” she said.

Burge said he thinks security in the JDUC is sufficient at present, but if thefts worsen, more drastic measures will have to be taken.

“We’re doing a really good job considering something like the JDUC is open 24 hours a day,” he said. “If it was really, really, really bad I think we’d have to take other steps.”

Some of these steps might include having the JDUC locked at certain times, having students swipe their student cards to get into the JDUC, or the installation of security camera. He said he would prefer not to do this, however.

“Who wants to go to that if you can educate people?” he asked. “I don’t like the idea of it, but if that was a route we had to go and we all had a good debate about it, then that was the route we would go.”

QMO co-director Jake Crookall said the group is trying to fundraise back the amount of funds stolen. Fundraising events will include a bingo at the Common Ground and a smoker at A.J.’s Ale House tonight.

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