University struck by series of robberies

bower building jani helle 2 credit

Craig MacLellan

A number of Glasgow University buildings have been hit by a spate of thefts this semester, resulting in the loss of equipment worth thousands of pounds.

On October 28, the Learning and Teaching Centre, located on Southpark Avenue, had a camcorder worth £20,000 stolen.

The Bower Building, located on University Avenue, which is a research and training facility for the Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, also had three laptops stolen in the same month.

It has been revealed that the thief who stole the camcorder from the Learning and Teaching Centre had earlier attempted to pose as an employee of EDF energy in the Nursing Studies Department, claiming he was there to read the electricity meter.

However, after being challenged by a member of staff, he left and made his way to the Learning and Teaching Centre, where he gained access to the building when a student was leaving.

Jim Kane, Traffic and Security Manager with the University’s Central Services, said that despite the strange behaviour of the individual, the members of staff whom he spoke with did not consider his actions suspect and no one took particular notice of his presence in various areas of the department.

He explained: “The individual who stole the camcorder was wearing an EDF badge and claimed he was there to read the meter. He had been sitting about for 15 or 20 minutes, and had spoken to people within the department, but no one took any action to ascertain his real reason for being there.

“He was well dressed, but he also had a good drink in him — not the type of person you’d expect to come round to read your meter.”

Kane went on to explain that the individual had seized the opportunity to steal the camcorder, as it had been left unattended in an open area by those who had been using it.

He said: “He was particularly lucky on this occasion, since there was nothing readily available to steal until a group of students and staff returned from a project and the camcorder was placed on the unmanned reception desk. He then managed to walk away with a camcorder worth £20,000.”

The incident was captured on CCTV and the footage has since been handed to Strathclyde Police to assist their ongoing investigation.

With regards to the incident at the Bower Building, Kane said that there was reason to suspect that the thief had waited in the building until the end of the day and committed the crime once staff had left and the building had been secured.

He explained: “There are no signs of a break-in to the building. There is no evidence on the monitoring system to indicate that people came in after the place was locked down.

“However, the area was subject to a break-out as the door of the office area which had housed the laptops was severely damaged.”

As of going to print, there is no information regarding the individual who stole the laptops from the Bower Building, although Strathclyde Police are investigating.
Kane advised both students and staff to be aware of what is going on around them and to report any suspicious activity.

He said: “I am sure that you will agree that a common sense approach to something unusual happening should be brought to the attention of others, and if necessary, security staff or the police. Many individuals tend to overlook situations, as they don’t see them as being any of their business.”

However, Kane was keen to point out that the recent series of robberies was highly unusual and that criminal statistics were lower this year compared to last year.

He explained: “There has been a good detection rate in recent years, due to the university security service observations and the student and staff population telling us about things that may have been happening. We ask people to continue to be vigilant and report anything they think is suspicious.”

Kane said that other suspected robberies this semester were still under investigation.


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