Petty theft on campus affects students

October 13, 2017 — by Ananya Vadlakonda and Anishi Patel

Despite Saratoga High’s well-deserved reputation as a school with little crime, students over the years have occasionally found their belongings missing.

 

During her freshman year, senior Ishana Thanawala returned to class from a rally, decked out in green. As she gathered her belongings to get ready for her next class, she discovered her wallet missing.

When she couldn’t find it anywhere else, Thanawala knew her wallet had been stolen.

Despite Saratoga High’s well-deserved reputation as a school with little crime, students over the years have occasionally found their belongings missing.

Because of cases like Thanawala’s, students in recent years have been encouraged to keep their backpacks in class during rallies and assemblies. The classrooms are then locked, creating a safe place for students to leave their belongings.

While instances of theft are still relatively rare, principal Paul Robinson said that students sometimes think their property has been stolen when in fact it has been lost and may even have been turned into the office. In fact, the office keeps a drawer solely dedicated to lost electronics.

“I know one time I opened the drawer and there must have been 25 really nice phones all sitting in there that have been turned in and never picked up,” Robinson said.

The office does hold dozens of lost and found items at any one time, and the administration urges students to check the office soon after finding any possessions go missing.

But some cases cannot be dismissed as solely lost and found items. In a Facebook survey, one third of the 60 students polled said they had an item stolen on campus.

Most of these students provided a location for where their belongings were stolen, with one answer cropping up most often: the locker rooms.

According to the survey, students have returned to the locker rooms after their sports or classes to find their water bottles, jewelry and even phones missing.

A few weeks ago, senior Alan Lu had a phone stolen out of his backpack in the boys locker room while he was at water polo practice. At the time, Silver Creek High’s football team was using the locker room before a game against SHS. Lu does not want to point any fingers, but he sees few other options for where his phone could have ended up.

“It’s kind of my fault for not locking [my backpack] up, but they still shouldn’t have taken it,” Lu said.

Campus supervisor Mark Hernandez warns students who use the locker rooms to secure their items before leaving, or else run the risk of having them stolen.

To help combat instances of crime such as this one, the school has precautions in place. Security cameras operate in all the major hallways, the parking lots and the quad. They can be used to help identify suspects if needed, even though they are not 100 percent reliable.

Of course, the school does not have cameras in the locker rooms, and there is no way of tracking down Lu’s missing phone.

Nor does the school have cameras in any classroom on campus. Instead, the administration trusts students and teachers to keep track of their valuables.

Security cameras have been placed in spots inside the new music building by request of the music teachers. However, Robinson said that even more than the threat of security cameras, students can help out by keeping an eye out for each other and help monitor belongings.

“I think that one of the unique things about being here in Saratoga is that we’re all pretty open to talking about things and taking care of each other,” Robinson said.

Although there have been cases of theft on campus throughout the years, the additional steps the school has taken by increasing communication about this issue and the introduction of security cameras in recent years have helped what was already a very low crime rate decline further.

“I wish I could say the school is 100 percent safe, but it’s not,” Robinson said. “Things happen, and when they do, I feel very secure in trusting students to let me know what’s happened so that we can fix it and work together to keep it from happening again.”

 
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