Thief eludes police in the Law Library

Jessica Steeno

Within a 20-minute time period four students studying in the Law Library on Monday morning reported their backpacks or briefcases missing. The students left their possessions unattended for a few minutes and then returned to their study areas to find their property had been stolen.
One of the victims, a first-year law student, said when she arrived at the library she set her backpack on a table and walked a few feet away to get a book. When she returned to the table, her backpack and the laptop computer inside it were gone.
“I was gone for less than a minute,” she said.
The victim said she immediately reported the theft to library security, and while she reported what happened, three other students also reported their briefcases and backpacks stolen. She said library staff members and other students, hoping to catch the thief, guarded the library’s two exits.
Her backpack was found later in the day in an aisle of the library. But several items, including her laptop computer, were missing.
University Police arrived a few minutes after the first report was made. Witnesses said although they were fairly sure the thief was still in the library, the police officer seemed to them to be more concerned with taking a report than in looking for the thief.
One witness, a first-year law student who asked not to be identified, said she helped library staff members guard the door and also walked around warning students to watch their valuables.
“I was so frustrated because this person was still in the library,” she said. She said if police had guarded the entrances or searched people in the library, the stolen property might have been recovered. “This should not have happened,” she said.
The University Police officer who was at the scene was not available for comment.
In other police news occurring between Oct. 7 and Monday:
ù Prospect Park Amoco, on the corner of University and 27th Avenue Southeast, was robbed Saturday by a man carrying a handgun, said Scott Gaida, the store’s manager.
Gaida said he was not certain exactly how much money the thief took, but that it was around $500.
The store is equipped with video surveillance equipment, and Gaida said a tape showing the suspect has been submitted to police.
Police have not yet identified a suspect.
ù A man was cited early Sunday morning for urinating on a bicycle parked on the west end of the University’s Transportation and Safety Building on Washington Avenue Southeast, according to a University Police report.
The building also houses the University Police Department.
The man continued to urinate in his pants while the officer questioned him, the report stated. The man admitted he had been drinking alcohol prior to the incident.
ù University workers severed a gas line on the St. Paul campus Oct. 10 while installing some electrical wires underground, according to a University Police report.
The St. Paul Fire Department was also at the scene and evacuated Snyder Hall and the Biological Sciences Center because of a strong gas odor, the report stated. Traffic on Gortner Avenue, where the leak occurred, was temporarily diverted while the leak was repaired.
University Police Sgt. Joe May said no one was hurt in the incident.
ù A safe in the Campus Club, an eatery for University faculty and staff members located on the fourth and fifth floors of Coffman Memorial Union, was robbed Oct. 7 of $800, according to a University Police report.
University Police Detective Larry Anderson said there were no signs of forced entry, and that police have no suspects in the incident.
ù University Police issued a trespass warning to a homeless man found sleeping in the Bierman Clubhouse Oct. 7, according to a University Police report. The officer also found a keg of beer near the man, which was later inventoried at the University Police station.
The homeless man denied ownership of the keg.
Police issue trespass warnings to people who are not staff members or students and act suspiciously around campus. A trespass warning prohibits the recipient from entering University buildings for one year.