Targeted thefts on campus

Multiple thefts from inside bags. Issue linked to lack of security resulting from “lack of staff”

Sam Wigglesworth & Ali Begg
News Editor & Editor

The Glasgow Guardian can confirm the thefts of two mobile phones and two purses from the Gilchrist Postgraduate Club on the afternoon of 13th October. An unconfirmed number of thefts from the Reading Room occurred on the same afternoon.

None of these items were left unattended, with students reporting that their belongings were either on the desk beside them or in their bags next to them. A Gilchrist staff member commented that there had been an error with the door entry system on the day in question. The building was very busy that day, and people were able to access the club without being buzzed in. They went on to state that, “People are very trusting of each other in here. When you open the door, people aren’t asking whether somebody is a student before letting them in.”

The staff member also highlighted that the Gilchrist wasn’t as safe as it could be, commenting that the building was, “not totally secure” but that staff were “doing our best to warn people if it looks like they aren’t being careful.”

Glasgow Guardian attempted to contact the staff in charge of the Reading Room for further details of the thefts there, but discovered that there are no specific staff members assigned to oversee security in the building. Indeed, it is unclear whether the building was staffed at all on the afternoon the thefts occurred.

Glasgow Guardian did speak to two library security guards, who commented that they had not heard anything about the thefts on campus, but stated that this was likely due to the fact that “there is nobody at the desk in the Reading Room” and as such, they “could not address what they did not know about.” They also commented that while they were responsible for dealing with crime on campus, they were unable to patrol the Reading Room as much as they would like, due to a “lack of staff” and such walkarounds were “few and far between these days.”

Traffic and Security Manager John McIntyre commented on the university’s commitment to campus security, stating that “The University is committed to making campus as safe and secure as possible, and we make every effort to communicate useful safety messages to students. Our annual Crime Prevention Week ran at the start of October, volunteer helpers during fresher’s week were briefed on safety advice, and every new student taking up university accommodation has the opportunity to attend personal safety demonstrations. Safety information is also displayed on bulletin boards around campus and in student accommodation.”

He highlighted further that crime on campus was a rare occurrence, stating that “Incidences of crime on campus remain very low.” While McIntyre did not comment on the issue of targeted theft and pickpocketing specifically, he did state that, “We would encourage students to play their part in preventing further thefts such as these by ensuring personal belongings are not left unattended in public spaces.”

“It is upsetting these incidences happened on campus, a place where students should feel safe and comfortable. We feel the University needs to take action to ensure that places like the Reading Room have greater presence from staff members at all times, in particular janitorial staff that can be deterrents to these incidents occurring.

Furthermore, no information has gone out to students from the University with regards to these incidents on campus encouraging them to protect their belongings and be cautious when in areas open to the public.”