The Department of Public Safety issued a crime alert on Sept. 29 regarding multiple instances of theft on a single day at Walsh Library, including stolen credit cards, small amounts of cash and a social security card taken from purses the victims left unattended.
Gary Christie, assistant director of Public Safety, wrote in an email that the two suspects who were pictured in the alert do not attend the University. They waited on the third floor of the library and acted when people left personal property unattended.
The first reported victim did not find out until the following morning that her card had been used when the bank called a family member about a purchase at Rite Aid, Christie said. The other two thefts occurred later that night when the same individuals returned to the library.
“In one case, the female (suspect) followed a victim into the bathroom and borrowed the victim’s cell phone to make a call. The phone was returned but the victim got a call later that day from someone pretending to be a representative from the bank,” Christie said. “That person asked for account information which fortunately was not provided. The other theft occurred at the same time and was discovered the following day.”
Adrianne Maye, junior occupational therapy major, is one of the victims in the recent library thefts. Maye’s debit card was stolen out of her wallet on Sept. 28 while she was in the library. During
the time of the theft, the female suspect asked to borrow Maye’s phone and after that Maye received phone calls from someone claiming to be her bank; Maye then noticed that her debit card was missing.
“Once I noticed my card was missing I began to panic and cancelled my debit card,” Maye said. “At the time I felt very uneasy that someone was able to go through my backpack and wallet without someone seeing. This feeling of uneasiness has not gone away and I still do not feel 100 percent safe in the library.”
Christie said that the South Orange Police Department (SOPD) is actively investigating the cases and that the two suspects may also be included in similar scams at different universities.
“Most incidents at the university are straight thefts where someone takes property with some value,” Christie said. “We have had some credit card theft in the past but nothing remarkable and arrests are made in most of these kinds of incidents.”
Maye said she is still in shock about the theft and shares what she has learned from this experience.
“I never thought something like this would happen to me, and the library was definitely the last place I would have thought of. I always think the best of people and never could have imagined that someone would make up this intricate and evil plan,” Maye said. “I am now more aware of everyone around me and I always have it in the back of my head that anyone could steal something from me. After this, I will never leave my items, no matter how valuable, unattended.”
Ashley Turner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.