New Theft Outbreak at Pomona

Several security breaches occurred on Pomona’s campus during the past two weeks. Burglaries occurred in Millikan Laboratory and Andrew Science Building as well as the On The Loose gear room, located in Walker Hall. It is unclear whether the incidents were related, but Campus Security and the Claremont Police Department have been involved in both cases.

The break-ins to Andrew and Millikan—facilities of Pomona’s physics and astronomy department—took place over the course of the week Apr. 6-13. It is suspected that the first of these events occurred sometime during the beginning of the week, though it was first noticed Friday, Apr. 10, when the infrared viewer in Professor Dwight Whitaker’s lab was reported missing. Upon further exploration, it was discovered that the optics lab had also been broken into and four boxed computers taken. Since the door appears to have been unlocked, the CPD, who took the report Friday afternoon, were doubtful they could do much.

On Sunday a computer lab in Andrew was found with objects moved around the room. At approximately noon the body of a mannequin named Einstein was found in the hall, which lead to the discovery of a partial theft of Professor of Astronomy Phil Choi’s basement computer lab. Police investigators fingerprinted the area. That same evening the shops of Michael Guerre and machinist Glenn Flohr were broken into. Room B40 also appeared to have been entered, though nothing was reported missing in any of these breaches.

Evidence suggests that some of the locks were opened with keys and then made to look as if they had been broken into, as actual break-ins would have caused more damage to the doors and locks. Furthermore, several doors were propped open and outside doors to the building do not appear to have been locked. These details have led some to suspect the thief to be an insider who had access to keys. The physics and astronomy department is also looking to identify a suspect who was implicated in an earlier theft on campus. A picture of the man is on the department window.

OTL sent out an e-mail Monday informing their members that the gear room was broken into over the weekend. Cash and checks in the club’s safe box were stolen. A report was filed with Campus Security and CPD, and a detective is presently working on the case. Thus far the police are inclined to believe that the criminal is a student familiar with the room and the location of the keys to the safe box.

OTL urged students who left check deposits with them to double-check their finances and to be aware of possible identity theft. Checks should be canceled and cash deposits will be reimbursed as long as borrowed gear is returned. OTL staffers held a meeting Tuesday, though they released no further information.

The physics and astronomy department also held a meeting on Tuesday. They are urging students working in their buildings to be cautious, keep doors locked, and report suspicious activity.

Changes have already been made to lab combinations, and measures are underway for a card swipe system, as well as the installation of video cameras in common lab areas.

Regarding the recent thefts and attempts, Director of Campus Safety of the Claremont Colleges Lena Robinson said, “we are inclined to believe that the same suspect(s) are involved although we have no clear evidence to support that belief.” Campus Safety procedurally forwards all crime-reports to the police department, and does not have results from any recent investigations undertaken by the Claremont Police Department Detective Bureau at this time.

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