A man attempting to cash in on knowledge tried to steal approximately $1,400 worth of books from the UCSB Bookstore on Tuesday.
UCen workers watched a 56-year-old male put books into boxes through video cameras. Using a luggage trolley, the man stole seven books worth approximately $700 and left the store. He returned and stole another seven books also estimated at $700 before he was confronted by security and arrested, UC Police Officer Bill Van Nieuwenhuize said. The man, later identified as a bookseller, selectively chose the 14 books to sell on the East Coast over the Internet.
The man was charged with burglary based on premeditated theft – unlike shoplifting where there is no forethought, Van Nieuwenhuize said. “When you take something from a store without thinking that’s not a burglary,” he said.
The bookstore installed the video cameras six years ago to decrease shrinkage – money lost to shoplifting and clerical errors. Originally, the bookstore lost $270,000 per year – 2 percent of its total profit – to theft. Since the security system installation, the bookstore loses close to $70,000 a year – 1/2 percent of its total profit – cutting down price hikes on books and merchandise, UCSB Bookstore Director Ken Bowers said.
Security personnel also use the system to protect visitors in the UCen and check for suspicious people, Bowers said.
“We’ve had a number of people who wander onto campus – there’s always a criminal element – that we’ve arrested. Some of those folks end up having a warrant for their arrest,” he said.
The security system is more advanced than those in other college centers because it uses fiber-optic technology and a computer connected directly to the cash registers, Asset Protection Manager Will Wood said. A fiber-optic cable the size of a hair connects eight cameras to the Ortega Dining Commons and 70 cameras cover the rest of the UCen.
“Virtually all the public space, anywhere the eye can see, is covered,” Bowers said.
Bowers said security follows an open-door policy, encouraging visitors to the control room and installing cameras in visible places to prevent theft. Wood said students still try to beat the system despite the cameras’ presence.
“We’ve had a student come in, pick up a laptop computer and just run out of the store. By the time he was home, we had figured out who he was and called him. He was still breathing hard,” Wood said.