Rains Center, Pomona's athletics facility, was hit with a string of thefts between Thursday, March 31, and Saturday, April 2.
Although Director of Athletics Charles Katsiaficas reported the thefts and a suspected break-in to Campus Safety, Sergeant Charles Salazar said that the Campus Safety report is still pending as they wait for victims of the thefts to come forward and give their incident reports.
Once Campus Safety has secured interviews with victims of the thefts, Salazar said Campus Safety could send a full report to the Claremont Police Department (CPD), which will then take the lead on a continued investigation.
“We’ve made an active attempt to go out and find the people who had their belongings stolen,” Salazar said. “We need the victims to come forward and give us information. It’s somewhat rare to not have victims come forward in these cases. It’s a little frustrating.”
According to Katsiaficas, a significant number of student iPods and cell phones were stolen during a volleyball class in Rains' Memorial Gymnasium on March 31. Another series of thefts occurred that weekend during a varsity water polo practice at Pomona's Haldeman Pool. In the latter case, cell phones and iPods were stolen directly from the pool locker room's lockers, Katsiaficas said.
During the same weekend, someone also broke into the staff office area on the second floor of the Rains Center. Individual office doors were locked, and the culprit was unable to steal anything. However, the culprit broke the lock on the main office door, forcing the Athletic Department to replace the entire door.
So far, no culprits have been identified and none of the stolen items have been recovered.
Rains Center is particularly vulnerable to theft because it has a number of doors through which intruders can enter, only two of which are monitored by students. Student monitors are supposed to check identification of all visitors upon entering the building, but often gym-goers are not asked to show identification.
“We are constantly trying to train the student monitors to be as effective as possible, but that’s an ongoing process,” Katsiaficas said. “I think one of the problems we are trying to figure out now is how to deal with just the amount of doors in Rains Center that allow folks to come in and out. Short of monitoring every door in Rains, we are continually trying to figure out the best approach.”
Following the thefts, Katsiaficas also e-mailed the Athletic Department staff and urged them to alert their players and students of the thefts and have them take precautions to better protect their belongings. Precautions include leaving valuable items at home when possible or locking personal belongings in a secure locker while using the athletics facility.
Some students said they already take these precautions to ensure that their personal belongings are safe.
“I wasn’t worried that any of my personal stuff might be stolen,” said Ali Corley PO ‘11, who plays on the softball team. “Our team has always done a good job at locking our locker room door and keeping our stuff locked with locks inside our individual lockers. We’re just going to continue doing what we’ve always done as a team.”
However, the recent thefts did not deter other students from continuing to store their items in unsecure areas. Joel Shuman PO ’11, who frequents the Rains Center weight room, said he often stores his keys and other items in the open cubbies provided at the entrance to the weight room. Though he tries to leave valuables at home and often brings only his key card to the gym, he said the recent thefts would not deter him from storing his items in the unsecure cubbies.
In the case of the recent thefts, students left valuable items in cubbies or on benches while participating in a physical education course, and players left similar items in unlocked lockers while participating in a team practice.
“In this kind of environment you sort of get lured into feeling so secure that we do become vulnerable,” Katsiaficas said. “Thefts are not an ongoing problem, but we’re not immune to those things. We’re fortunate we have as little worry and as little problem with this as we do, but things like this certainly remind you that we can’t think that we're not vulnerable to some extent.”