UMN students work to combat library laptop thefts

Library laptop thefts have doubled this semester at the University.

Junior Forrest Casey considers actors positioning while filming an anti-theft PSA in Walter Library on Saturday, April 21.

Image by Max Ostenso

Junior Forrest Casey considers actors’ positioning while filming an anti-theft PSA in Walter Library on Saturday, April 21.

by David Mullen

After Forrest Casey learned 20 laptops were stolen this semester at University of Minnesota libraries, he decided students should be made aware of the thefts.

Casey, a communications junior, said he learned of the high number of thefts earlier this semester, which inspired him to create a humorous video alerting students to the issue for a class assignment.

“I didn’t know a lot about the statistic, but it shocked me,” Casey said. “We as students rely heavily on laptops and electronic devices, so I think to spread awareness about this issue is important.”

Just 10 laptops were reported stolen during the 2017 fall semester, said Mark Engebretson, director of communications for University Libraries.

Casey reached out to Engebretson this semester to discuss and collaborate on creating a PSA video about the thefts.

“Since we are experiencing an increase in thefts, we thought this would be a great opportunity and another avenue to provide awareness to students,” Engebretson said in an email.

Casey said he wants to bring awareness to students in a way that doesn’t overload them with information.

“I think it would be nice to change it up a bit and bring awareness to something this serious,” he said.

The University is also working to bring awareness to thefts by posting fliers around campus.

Additionally, the University of Minnesota Police Department has placed bait laptops around libraries that send a notification when taken and can be tracked through a GPS system.

“We put them in an area where trends have occurred, and we’ve had some success in capturing thieves who stole them,” said UMPD Lieutenant Chuck Miner.

Matt Boerst, a junior whose laptop was stolen this semester, said alerting students to thefts is important.

“I think it’s necessary,” Boerst said. “I think there can be something really said about taking care of your stuff.”

Miner said he encourages students to report thefts to the UMPD and to speak with library employees if their laptop is stolen.

“The easiest way to not have anything stolen is to not leave anything unattended,” Miner said.

Casey’s video will be completed by May 3 and, once approved by the University, will be advertised on social media platforms.