Given the instances of burglary in student club rooms, Public Safety has improved its watch of the Student Union basement by installing high resolution cameras this spring.
The lower level of the SU is where 39 clubs are located and students are found talking, interacting with friends and getting their groups organized. It is unexpected that someone would steal a club’s equipment.
“The thing with Queens College is that we’re an open campus, that means anybody could come on campus. We are very trusting which is a good thing, but there are times where we are a little too trusting,” said Jennifer Jarvis, executive director of the SU.
Jarvis also said that on a few occasions there have been clubs that have had misplaced items, but one of the most prominent mishaps was when the science fiction club’s TV was stolen last year.
In broad daylight, the day before commencement last year, the sci-fi club’s TV and computer were stolen straight from their room in the basement of the SU.
“When I got into the room it was a mess, there were wires everywhere, things were broken. It was apparent that someone was scuffling around,” said Marcos Ynoa, the club’s president.
After noticing that the room was a mess, Ynoa went to check the security camera footage. Although the footage was blurry, he could see that the suspects were three or four men, but could not tell if they were QC students.
From the footage, Ynoa said he saw the group of men walking around the SU, looking at the other rooms as well. While looking through the different rooms to find something of value, the suspects picked the sci-fi club room.
“It was not only my club, my club just happens to have equipment, TVs, electronics. When they found the 37” flat screen in our room they were probably like ‘hey good catch,’” Ynoa said.
One of the men, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, made three trips to the sci-fi club. On his first trip he stole the club’s computer and then approximately 10-20 minutes later, he stole the TV.
After stealing the TV, the man came back a third time to try to steal the club’s stereo system, but Ynoa thinks that he panicked and so he left it behind.
After checking with Public Safety and the SU staff, Ynoa said that they were able to narrow the suspect to a specific guy, but could not do anything because they could not identify him due to the blurriness of the security camera footage.
Public Safety filed a report from the complainant and began an investigation, and a report was filed to the NYPD as well.
Public Safety regularly patrols all of the buildings on campus, according to Assistant Director, Lieutenant Rufus Massiah.
Since the suspect of the sci-fi club could not be convicted due to blurry camera footage, Public Safety has improved their security cameras, which now have higher image resolution and allow viewers to see with greater detail when the camera is zoomed in.
“There are over 150 security cameras installed throughout the campus, so there is no way to monitor them all simultaneously,” Massiah said.
Ynoa highlighted another safety concern, mentioning that clubs are not allowed to lock their doors during certain hours since security is on shift during that period of time. However, being able to lock the doors would have prevented this from happening, Ynoa said.
The club doors are locked at night and opened in the morning. None of the club doors are allowed to be secured during the day, excluding student clubs with college-associated equipment such as school provided computers.
The sci-fi club’s equipment was donated by its members and not provided by the college, so its club room was unlocked during day hours. The club and many others have made it clear to their members that if anything were to be left in the room, no one can control what happens to their belongings once left unattended.
Ynoa assumes more cameras were installed in the beginning of spring 2012 near the sci-fi club room, LL-22, as a response to the burglary.
The club’s counter-measure was to get another computer monitor small enough to keep in a safety locker. They were able to purchase this monitor through funds made from bake sales and monetary donations from the members as well.