The UC Police Dept. is still investigating the theft of nearly $200,000 worth of computer equipment taken from Kerr Hall and a university-owned 1995 Chevrolet Suburban.
Police said whoever committed the theft on the night of June 11 had extensive knowledge of the equipment stolen as well as of Kerr Hall itself. The suspect or suspects entered only the rooms that do not have alarm systems and stole only items of the highest value.
Kerr Hall Business Officer Tia Thompson said she believes the thief or thieves had technical knowledge of the items stolen because of the specific nature of the theft. The most expensive computer equipment was taken, while cheaper equipment was left. The bulk of monetary loss came from digital overhead projectors, which cost about $5,000 apiece.
Kerr Hall provides audiovisual support to over 98 general classrooms and 40 other department rooms, said Classroom Service Manager John Davis. In order to continue to provide the same level of service after the theft, technicians have had to resort to older equipment and slower computers.
“Its been difficult,” Thompson said. “Our staff has done an amazing job of making do.”
Thompson said she believes the perpetrators had possession of several keys to Kerr Hall, but police said finding a suspect is difficult because of the number of employees that have master keys. Davis said he believes the thief or thieves may be affiliated with the university.
“It’s a favored theory that may well turn out to be correct,” said Davis.
Thompson said the equipment stolen seemed to be tailored to someone who wanted to have a personal digital laboratory, capable of filming, editing and creating DVDs. She said there would have been enough equipment stolen to have two fully functioning labs, with some expensive items left over that could have easily been sold.
UCPD Officer Mark Signa said although computer theft is not uncommon on campus, a theft of this size is unusual. Recently there was a similar theft in the Physics Dept., but the equipment was recovered.
Despite the fact all the equipment stolen June 11 was insured, plans are underway to heavily upgrade Kerr Hall’s security. Thompson said new alarm systems and other security measures will be added.
UCPD Chief Bill Bean said other security persuasions can be implemented, such as a five-point inspection of the building’s security that can be carried out by the UCPD upon request. Completion of this test will lower insurance rates for any department that requests it.