A break-in at the Salt Lake Community College Redwood Campus occurred Thursday night. High-end HD camera equipment and some editing equipment was stolen from the Communication Department equipment room, Technology Building room 319A, between 10:00 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. Police suspect it to be an inside job, most likely a student or students.
Communication Lab Aid Drew Nielson was the last to leave the studio at 5:15 p.m.
According to the Highway Patrol, who are investigating the situation, the cleaning crew went through the area around 10:00 p.m. They then attended a mandatory meeting and reported the break-in at around 2:30 a.m.
“Our campus safety guys were out doing their patrols at about 2:30 in the morning, and a custodian came out and grabbed them saying, ‘there was damage to a door,'” Director of Parking Patrol Shane Crabtree said.
The Safety Patrol officer who investigated the broken door was Trooper Brown. He called Utah Highway Patrol who then came over and started the investigation.
What happened after that is, at this time, still undisclosed, due to the ongoing investigation. However, there was no officer there when Nielson arrived at the broadcasting studio the next morning.
Nielson arrived at his office Friday morning at 8:15 to find his office door unlocked, along with the door to the check out room, which contains a large amount of high-end video production equipment.
“I noticed that [the door] moved without me unlatching it,” Nielson said. “So I pulled the door open and noticed that the door jam had been damaged, just totally ripped apart.”
The main frame of the door was bent in near the latch. The wood of the door was splintered and the latch had been torn completely from the door. He found the latch sitting on a desk just inside the studio.
“At that point I knew something was wrong,” Nielson said.
Campus Security was called. Upon further inspection, Nielson and Associate Professor Rob Branch found that thieves had taken one Sony EX3 camera, two Panasonic HD cameras, a four to five year old Dell laptop, Nielson’s backpack containing all his school books, a hard drive and his 4GB iPod, two P2 memory cards for the cameras, a mini DV video recording deck, and a P2 card reader.
The type of damage inflicted on the door lead investigators to suspect the burglars had used a heavy crowbar.
After the responding officers had left, it was discovered that the perpetrators had also attempted to break-into one of the editing bays, which also contain very expensive equipment.
“They did also try to get into edit bay number three, but they were either interrupted or unable to get that one open,” Mass Communication Center Coordinator Alison Arndt-Wild said. “They only went for one of those, and there is a SXS card reader in there, or that is one of the higher end computers.”
According to Nielson and Branch it did not seem that the check out room had been rifled through. Due to construction in the studio, a lot of extra equipment had been placed in that room, which created a lot of extra clutter.
“We’re making an assumption that someone knew what they were looking for,” Mass Communication Instructor Tyler Smith, who teaches most video production-related classes said. “Because amidst all that clutter they went straight for our most expensive cameras.”
This, on top of them seeming to know which edit bay had the most expensive equipment has lead investigators to believe the break-in to be an inside job.
“It looked like they walked passed one of the other Panasonics that was sitting out, cause it hadn’t been put away,” Arndt-Wild said. “That does also make it look like they were going directly for those cabinets where they knew [the cameras] were kept.”
There is speculation as to who could have done this. Although the investigation is still underway and nothing is certain, some seem to feel it is more likely that a current student is the perpetrator.
“A past student probably would know they needed the accessories,” Arndt-Wild speculated. “Where as a current student – we’re not that far into the semester, so I can see them knowing what the cameras are but not knowing they should have taken those accessories too.”
This break-in has caused the Communication Department to rethink a few things.
“It’s just really sad, because it makes us have to rethink our policies,” Arndt-Wild said.
“Right now we have such an open policy for students and we try really hard to have students have access to the best possible equipment. Stuff like this happens and we have to really think is it really worth it to let students have that kind of access.”
The security protecting that equipment was solely locked doors. Only one door leading from the main hallway had a metal plate over the lock to prevent a break-in such as this.
“When we ordered equipment of that high-end, probably should have thought to also order more security such as cameras and or cages,” Arndt-Wild said.
The main problem with getting security like that is budgeting. But now the department has been forced to upgrade.
“We’re looking to install [new security] some time this week,” Director of the Mass Communication Center Julie Gay said.
The department is also rethinking their policies on how they check out equipment to students.
Students may no longer be allowed to pick out their own equipment for assignments, and there will be stricter enforcements to make sure students only keep equipment for the allotted 24 hours.
This policy change will affect any class that requires students to use equipment outside of class.
Students may not even be allowed in the check out room in the future, which will slow the check out process
The theft of this equipment has caused the greatest detriment to these classes. The department was already dealing with a limited amount of equipment for all these classes, and now they cannot request new equipment until the end of the fiscal year.
The more Smith talked about the break-in the angrier he seemed to become. “It’s a bummer,” he said, “because we’re already really limited on the equipment we have available for students…this is a real blow to our system.”
The department has taken many steps forward in improving the quality in education for communication students, but this theft has sent the department back to where they were a year ago.
“It’s really difficult for our department to get money,” said Smith.
“I’m sad that someone would just take college equipment and not realize the impact of their behavior,” Gay said.”We’re looking on Craig’s List, KSL, and eBay just in case they go on there,” Nielson said.
The police will also be keeping an eye open in pawnshops for the serial numbers of the stolen goods.
If there is anyone who has any information about this robbery please contact Shane Crabtree at 801-957-4571.