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Samantha Mathewson

Recent thefts on campus leave Campus Police searching for the culprit.

Surveillance Photo provided by Campus Police
Surveillance Photo provided by Campus Police

While progress has been made, the investigation of the electronic thefts from Buckman, Dodds and Harugari Halls remains active as Chief of Police Mark DeLieto and Assistant Chief of Police Donald Parker search for the suspect’s identity.

An email explaining the thefts was sent out by Parker on Friday, March 21, to the University of New Haven community with an attached surveillance image of the possible suspect (pictured above). They asked that anyone who could identify the person in the image, or if anyone has seen the person on campus, to please contact Campus Police at 203-932-7014.

The investigation is currently ongoing and no exact identification has been made from the surveillance photo; however DeLieto said “We will ID him.”

DeLieto has no doubt that the person who committed the thefts will be found, and said the investigation is by no means a lost cause. “We just need a positive ID by name to be made, and right now all we have is that it ‘looks like’… [Someone].”

Since the thefts, other police departments including Orange PD and West Haven PD have gotten involved with the investigation in attempts to make a positive identification. DeLieto and Parker said that the suspect is neither a student nor a member of the UNH Campus. They believe the suspect may be a person on parole, and his parole office has been contacted. As of now the suspect is considered a “person of interest.”

The surveillance photo was taken in Harugari hall, where a single desktop computer belonging to the university was stolen. DeLeito believes this particular theft was planned because the items were carried away in box by the suspect. “It was an intentional act,” he said.

The thefts from the other campus buildings were a combination of electronic items including cell phones and laptops. The thefts in Buckman occurred a week prior to the theft from Harugari, but there is no evidence that connects the two occurrences.

“Thefts are not generally high on this campus, and most that do happen are “crimes of opportunity,” said DeLieto and Parker. “Either students are naïve or forgetful, but out of the thefts that do occur, a lot are seen in the library because students get up to go get lunch and leave their belongings behind and unattended.”

The librarians are very strict when it comes to unattended belongings and leave notices on people’s computers and belongings that are left unattended; however DeLieto and Parker explained this situation makes a criminal out of someone not normally one, because when items are sitting around unattended for a long time it is likely that someone will just come by and pick them up. “Leaving items unattended is the biggest nation-wide campus crime,” Parker said. The officers strongly recommend students be careful with their personal items. “It is amazing how many items we get turned into lost and found here in Campus Police. Students forget about them, and we try, but it is hard to find the owners – you’d be surprised,” said DeLieto and Parker.

Parker explained the university has an educational program called Stay Safe 360 to prevent these kinds of crimes. According to the UNH website, the program features a series of useful videos that provide practical information and advice for situations students face every day. To access these videos students can visit insideUNH and find 360 Stay Safe under the ‘Employee’ tab.

The thefts that have been reported appear to be random and no patterns of common, or increased, occurrences have been seen. However, Harugari experienced a book theft a couple years ago like this one, where high-end textbooks were stolen by a non-campus member to be sold. The thief was found and ordered to make restitution to the campus for the crime he had committed, and it is because of this that DeLieto is confident in finding the suspect involved in the current electronic thefts, and believes it is indeed not a lost cause.

“This may seem like it happened a while ago, but the process takes time,” said DeLieto. After an ID can finally be made, an arrest warrant will be made; however, the officers explained it is a lengthy process. If and when the suspect is arrested for the thefts, it is ultimately up to the courts to decide what happens next, and unlike the book thefts, a restitution option is not always the case.