Police investigate string of book thefts

Tom Lopez

Andrew Tellijohn

University police are currently investigating a series of book thefts that have occurred in the sociology department during the last three years. The subject covered in the stolen books is, appropriately enough, the criminal justice system.
Books on criminal justice and deviance have sporadically been reported missing since 1994. The department reported the thefts last Wednesday to University police.
Gwendolyn Gmeinder, an associate administrator in the Department of Sociology, said the department just reported the situation because the problem was becoming so serious. “Professors are expecting these books. They’ve ordered them, and they’ve paid for them and they’re not getting them,” she said.
The books were apparently taken from professors’ mailboxes, located on the ninth floor of the Social Sciences Building. The books were sometimes paid for with department funds, and sometimes out of the professors’ pockets. Regardless, the department pays to reorder the books.
Gmeinder estimates the loss at about $300, but said that it is possible that more have been taken and have not been reported. “It’s very difficult to note,” she said.
At this point, Gmeinder is not sure whether or not the thefts are being committed by a student.
She does suspect, however, that they have been committed by one person during the last three years.
She said at first the department called the publisher, assuming that the books had not arrived. However, they verified that someone had signed for the books.
“So we knew they arrived,” she said. “So when we got a report, we knew it was stolen.” Gmeinder added that the books were not lost in the shuffle of the office. “We have a very good system here,” she said.
The department has taken steps to guard against further thefts, now keeping books in a secured location. Gmeinder said she is not sure whether the books will be found, but said she believes the University police will be very helpful.
Gmeinder said she is not sure what kind of person would steal books about the criminal justice system. “It does make one wonder,” she said.

University police answered a variety of other calls during the week, as well.

ù The construction area of the Carlson School of Management was burglarized last Wednesday. The items taken included a compound miter saw, a hammer and a Coke machine.
University police were informed of the burglary at about 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Police have no suspects in the matter, and the case is inactive, pending new information.

ù A woman was arrested for forgery last Thursday after attempting to withdraw money from another woman’s account.
Carrie Leigh Hernandez approached a teller at the State Capitol Credit Union at about 3:20 p.m. asking to withdraw $900 from the victim’s account. According to complaints, when the teller repeatedly asked for identification, Hernandez finally handed the teller the victim’s license. The teller questioned her about the difference in appearance, and Hernandez said “she had let her hair grow longer and no longer dyed her hair.”
The defendant then signed a piece of paper at the teller’s request, the complaint said. The teller determined the signatures did not match, at which time the defendant left the credit union.
According to the complaint, police later learned that the victim, who volunteers at Bethel Lutheran Church, had her purse taken from the church earlier in the day.
Hernandez was apprehended a few blocks from the credit union. She admitted to forging the victim’s signature and said she obtained the purse from a prostitute and was trying to withdraw as much money as possible.
She is currently not being held in custody.

ù Popcorn burning in a microwave oven last Saturday drew University police and the Minneapolis Fire Department to the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Building. The popcorn set off an alarm on the second floor of the building. The police are not sure who burned the popcorn.
Sgt. Joe May of the University police Department said this sort of false alarm is not uncommon. He said because of the high population of University residence halls and buildings, the police department responds to the smoke and alarms very quickly. “It’s automatic,” he said.