Employees in Moore Hall have reported three thefts — totaling more than $7,000 in stolen property — to the CMU Police Department in the last two weeks.
Several clothes and miscellaneous items, valued at $829, were reported stolen Oct. 26.
Denny Bettisworth, speech communication and dramatic arts chairman, said the items were stolen sometime between the Friday and Saturday night performances of a show.
“Our student group produced a show and from the Friday to Saturday production. Somebody stole a whole bunch of their costumes. The poor kids had to go on stage with whatever they could put on their backs,” Bettisworth said.
A video projector, valued at $4,000, was reported stolen less than two weeks later from a mediated classroom in Moore Nov. 6. On the same day, a computer was reported stolen from the box office, located in Moore Hall 144. Police believe the Macintosh computer and its keyboard, valued at $2,300, were taken sometime between 3 p.m. Nov. 5 and 11 a.m. Nov. 6. There was no damage or sign of forced entry into the room.
The rash of thefts may be the result of an oversight in building security and re-organization that has occurred during the past 30 years, Bettisworth said.
When Moore Hall was built in 1970, it housed only the communications department. Since then, the communications department has grown and separated into three departments: speech communication and dramatic arts; broadcast and cinematic arts; and communications disorders. The dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts also is located in Moore Hall.
The locks in Moore Hall haven’t been changed since the building opened, and all four departments housed in the building have access to one another with a master key.
“Absolutely, we’re concerned. There’s not evidence of forced entry, so who ever is doing this has a master key,” Bettisworth said.
The larcenies occurred in three separate areas of the building with three different locks.
“It’s a problem that has gotten progressively worse as the years go by. One master key still fits everywhere. I’ve raised this issue before, and it’s a matter of money. The departments can’t afford a major project like that,” he said.
CMU Police Detective Jeff Pickler said it is too soon to speculate that this may or may not be the work of someone with a master key. The investigations into each of the thefts are ongoing, and the CMU Police Department is searching for suspects.
“We are trying to identify a suspect or suspects that are responsible for the larcenies. We are working with the building coordinator to try and tighten up security to see if there is anything we can do to reduce the risk of any additional larcenies from occurring,” Pickler said.
This is not the first time Moore Hall has experienced multiple thefts, Bettisworth said.
“We have had rashes of this before. We haven’t had a series like this for several years, but just because you got hit with a club once before doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt the second time,” he said.
Although Bettisworth believes the building needs new locks, he said the real problem lies with whoever may be using a master key to steal.
“Honest people have had masters keys for a long time, but they don’t have the mentality that uses the master key. They don’t go around stealing,” he said.
Bettisworth, who has set a meeting with Pickler to discuss the larcenies, said police have taken all the necessary steps for an investigation. He said the only thing he can do is file reports with the police and give them as many details as possible.
“Maybe we’ll get lucky. Maybe they’ll find these folks. I’d just like our stuff back. It is disheartening,” he said.