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BUPD officials use surveillance tape footage to try to ID suspect in library thefts

A surveillance camera captured the face of a college-age suspect accused of four library thefts. PHOTO COURTESY OF BU POLICE DEPARTMENT

A surveillance camera captured the face of a college-age suspect accused of four library thefts. PHOTO COURTESY OF BU POLICE DEPARTMENT

Boston University Police Department officials are still seeking a suspect in a string of thefts in Mugar Memorial Library, the latest of which occurred Tuesday, after identifying a possible perpetrator with surveillance camera footage.

A Boston University student reported a stolen laptop from Mugar Memorial Library last Tuesday, marking the fourth of such thefts since Sept. 30 from what is believed to be the same suspect, Boston University Police Department officials said.

“We’ve had several laptops stolen on various dates and times the last several weeks from the library,” said BUPD Captain Robert Molloy. “… We’ve looked at some video surveillance and developed a suspect description that seems to be similar in each case. I’m not saying it’s the same suspect for every one of the stolen laptops, but two or three of them look like it could be the same suspect.”

Although a suspect has not been identified, BUPD officials were able to get a picture of the suspect from video surveillance cameras. Molloy said the photo has been sent to Massachusetts Most Wanted, where investigators will study the information and picture in hopes of gathering information about the suspect.

Although thefts on campus occur regularly, this case is unique because the suspect has allegedly returned multiple times, said BUPD Lieutenant Peter DiDomenica.

“This case is a little different, because it’s one person coming back over again for the same things, which in a sense makes it easier for us to catch the person,” DiDomenica said. “They leave more evidence behind, and each time they come in, we get a little closer to catching him. I’m confident we’re going to identify the person. We do have a good chance of catching the person.”

DiDomenica said BUPD has increased their presence in areas that are prone to frequent theft incidents in order to prevent these crimes from happening in the future. He said students have a responsibility to guard their own property.

“I would say about 90 percent of thefts here [at BU] are unattended property,” DiDomenica said. “… If people attended to their property, we could eliminate a vast majority of these crimes.”

These incidents are not the only cases of theft at BU, Molloy said.

“We’ve always had issues with unattended property and thefts from unattended property,” Molloy said. “Sometimes there can be one or two suspects that are responsible for a particular area. We get involved in it, we identify the suspect, and if we’re fortunate enough to make an arrest, we can stop the suspect from being able to do that stuff any longer. It stops.”

In order to prevent their belongings from being stolen, BU spokesman Colin Riley said BU students should to listen to the BU officials’ warnings and not leave their property unattended in public areas.

“There are multiple messages reiterating that warning and concern,” Riley said. “Yet, we still see almost daily people leaving their belongings unattended for long periods of time. One case occurred where people left their belongings – computer and other property – while they went to a class … In that case, the items weren’t stolen because a staff member went over, saw them and stayed there with them. That is not an efficient use of anyone’s time.”

Raedwal Arocha, a Metropolitan College senior, said the library should be a secure place for people to study, without worrying about potentially having their belongings stolen.

“It [the library] should be a safe environment,” Arocha said. “Everybody is there studying, everybody needs to use the bathroom. It’s not fair that you should have to take all your stuff with you just to do your business.”

Nadine Frei, a College of Arts and Sciences junior, said students who leave their belongings unattended are not to blame if they are stolen.

“I don’t think it’s their fault,” Frei said. “I don’t put a Post-it on my stuff with the word ‘steal.’ It’s mine, and if I leave for just a second, it’s not supposed to be stolen. It’s not my fault. I’m not giving it out for free.”

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