Theft shakes upgeology office

Tom Lopez

A Monday night theft cost the geology department two laptop computers, a bicycle and a backpack, as an unknown person or persons broke into Pillsbury Hall.
The thief or thieves entered an office in the building through a window above the door, which had been left open for improved air flow.
“This was definitely something that had been planned out ahead of time,” said Cara Alferness, a graduate student with the department.
Alferness said she suspects the theft was premeditated because the office is in a secluded area of the building where there is little foot traffic.
“You have to get into a couple of rooms to get into this office,” she said. “Mostly it’s just graduate students.”
John Swenson, another graduate student with the department, contacted University police after his bike was stolen. In the process of searching for the bike, police discovered that the computers and backpack were missing.
One of the laptops belonged to Elise Bekele, a graduate student in the office. The other belonged to the department and was locked down with a cable.
Alferness said the perpetrators pulled the cable out of the computer’s hard drive.
“They yanked it right out,” she said. “They probably damaged the hard drive doing this.”
Dan Doctor, a graduate student, used the department’s computer and said the theft will be a setback for the department.
“It will be sorely missed,” he said. “I know I lost some important information that I can’t regain.”
He added that the thefts will affect the quiet, relaxed atmosphere of the department.
“Now everyone will have to be on their guard in terms of security,” he said.
University police had their hands full with several other incidents during the past week.

ù University police were called to Frontier Hall for an alleged narcotics violation on Wednesday night. Officer Charles Miner said he was called by community adviser Patrick Duffy after Duffy saw what he believed was marijuana growing from a flower pot in a dorm room.
“The community adviser walked in the day before and saw plants growing and felt they were marijuana plants,” Miner said.
However, Andrew Skemp, the student who was allegedly growing the marijuana, said the plants in the flower pot were marigolds.
“It was a misunderstanding,” he said. Miner said the plants were destroyed before they could be examined.
University police officers are often called to the dorms for reports of marijuana odor — three to four times a week, Miner said. He added, however, that he rarely sees actual plants.
“It’s more common to have students possessing it in their dorm rooms,” he said. “But to actually have it being grown is fairly unusual.”
Possessing up to one ounce of marijuana is a petty misdemeanor in Minnesota. People caught with an amount that large can be given a citation and a $50 fine.
Miner said, however, that in some states it’s treated as a much more serious crime.
He said he thinks Minnesota should consider increasing consequences for possession to send a message about the danger of drug use.

ù Police have no suspects in the break-in of a car in the West Bank Office Building parking ramp on Tuesday night.
The thief smashed through a window and made off with almost $800 worth of valuables, including a cellular phone and prescription sunglasses, worth about $350 each.
Ami Claxton, a research assistant in epidemiology, said her car was parked in the lower ramp of the West Bank Office Building.
Claxton, who is often on campus working late, said the break-in will affect her parking habits. She plans to drive home earlier in the day and have her husband drive her back to the West Bank Office Building.
“We don’t really want to leave our car here at night after this,” she said.
Claxton also added that she would like to see some additional security measures taken in the parking ramp. She said security monitors do a great job of patrolling the building, but should patrol the ramp, as well.
“It seems like they are always just around the corner if you need them,” she said. “It would be great if they could take a swing around the parking ramp, too.”