University of Minnesota police are investigating an attempted break-in at Pillsbury Hall Saturday night âÄî the first foiled attempt after two successful burglaries.
The police believe all three incidents are related, and have indentified two possible suspects.
In total, about 12 netbooks, six iPads, two laptops, a GPS unit, a camera, a hard drive and a bike were stolen from faculty offices since the first break-in in mid-August. The second break-in happened over Labor Day weekend.
Kent Kirkby, one of the professors whose property was stolen, said he estimated it would cost up to $10,000 to replace the stolen items.
Kirkby was at Pillsbury Hall on the night of the attempted break-in. According to a police report, he spotted someone trying to prop open one of the doors on the building. The person ran when he saw Kirkby.
About the same time, members of the Community Response Team, a plainclothes investigative team, identified two suspects who were roaming campus buildings, said Investigator Jason Tossey.
Police have not made any arrests so far, but Tossey said the suspects have been entered into a pawn shop database, along with the serial numbers of each of the stolen items. He said the database will alert law enforcement if the items are sold to a pawn shop.
âÄúRight now we donâÄôt have any hits,âÄù he said.
The University habitually catalogs its property âÄî something Tossey said might help the investigation.
âÄúKudos to them for keeping good inventory.âÄù
Solving the case is not a guarantee, Tossey said. Third-party websites like eBay and Craigslist make tracking down the stolen items difficult because private parties donâÄôt have to list the serial numbers of the items they sell.
Tossey said the lack of strong security at Pillsbury Hall may have made the building a vulnerable target. The University is addressing the buildingâÄôs security problems, he said.
University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said it is up to the tenants of the buildings to make sure they are secured. He said police officers sometimes find windows unlocked from the inside.
Kirkby said none of his stolen technology contained secure University information. He said he thought whoever is responsible for the burglaries is probably not affiliated with the University.
âÄúI imagine the person may have been casing the building and saw [the items] earlier,âÄù he said.
Despite the loss of his items, Kirkby is keeping a positive attitude.
âÄúThis is an inconvenience and can sort of turn you off, but you gotta keep perspective on it,âÄù he said.