Unsecure buildings cause problems for U police

Open doors leave buildings vulnerable to theft and homeless visitors.

In the past month, University of Minnesota police have reported 22 open rooms in 10 buildings across campus. Unsecured doors leave a building vulnerable to theft, as well as homeless people looking for a place to sleep, University police Chief Greg Hestness said. âÄúWeâÄôve had [homeless] people under the stage at the old Mayo auditorium, and weâÄôve had them in the rafters at Northrop,âÄù Hestness said. âÄúTheyâÄôre looking for creative places to get out of the elements.âÄù Though University police and campus security work diligently to keep the University safe, when preventable measures are neglected, such as keeping doors locked outside of public hours, these watchdogs say it makes their jobs much harder. A large amount of campus theft can be attributed to neglect, University Security Monitor Program Manager Ben Schnabel said. âÄúForgetting to lock up your stuff is why theft happens. Whether that is locking your [office], locking your drawer or leaving your backpack or purse unattended,âÄù Schnabel said. âÄúTheft is by far the most prevalent crime on campus.âÄù The UniversityâÄôs Security Monitor Program does nightly patrols inside and out of buildings on campus to check for unsecure buildings. The goal of the patrols is to reduce âÄúopportunistic theft,âÄù Schnabel said. Security Monitor personnel only report to police doors that cannot be secured on site. University police officers on foot-beat patrol often check up on buildings containing expensive research equipment. Higher priority is put on buildings such as the Lions Research Building , University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said. Once a report is made, University police will call the department responsible for locking the door and inform them of the lapse, Hestness said. Each day, Facilities Management is responsible for locking and unlocking exterior doors of campus buildings. Individual departments are required to lock up specific areas within buildings. Facilities Management Administrative Director Brad Hoff said they try to hold employees accountable for leaving doors unlocked, but finding the cause of an insecure building is difficult. If there is a pattern of unlocked doors authorities follow a step-by-step discipline process to fix the problem, Hoff said. âÄúBut itâÄôs very difficult to tie a door being unlocked directly to an individual,âÄù he added. On Thursday, Feb. 26, 10 neuroscience laboratories in the Lions Research Building were left open, and police had to call Facilities Management to come lock the laboratories. Often times a door remains open because it has been propped open or somebody has jammed paper by the lock to keep it from closing, Hoff said. The University eventually wants all doors to be operated electronically by card readers, Hoff said. The readers are controlled by the Department of Central Security . Card readers are already in place in several places on campus, including the Carlson School of Management. Although these card readers help University security, the system is too expensive to immediately add throughout campus, Hoff said. Schnabel said that these readers greatly reduce the chance of doors being inadvertently unlocked or left open. Electronically controlled doors automatically lock outside of the buildingâÄôs public hours, but allow students with access to the building to enter after a certain time. Schnabel says they reduce thefts. Hestness said this issue is a bigger problem than it has to be. âÄúIt would be great if it was a high priority all the time, because we think itâÄôs important,âÄù he said.