Leonard Center lockers robbed

By April DeJarlais

With fewer than 2,000 students, the Macalester community is used to a close-knit, safe environment. When crimes occur-as in the case of the Leonard Center thefts in late February and early March-they often come as a surprise.The Leonard Center thefts took place mostly in the men’s locker room, with several in the women’s as well. Possessions were taken out of bags in unlocked lockers, and in some cases locks were cut. Macalester officials suspect that a male who does not attend the college is responsible for the thefts.

Although gyms and fieldhouse in the Leonard Center have security cameras, locker rooms do not. Because many of the thefts were out of unlocked lockers, “there wasn’t much we could do,” Director of Security Terry Gorman said.

Security in the Leonard Center was tightened after the crimes, and since then no thefts have been reported. All Leonard Center users have been required to swipe an ID card, which confirms that individual has a membership and allows supervisors to monitor the number of people inside the Leonard Center at any given time.

Two student workers are on duty at the front desk during open hours, and assistant director of athletic facilities Jarrett Yehlen and equipment and facility manager Ron Osterman have been spending more time at the front desk with students. There is also staff at the Snelling Avenue and South doors from 3 p.m. to midnight.

As an additional security measure, a new system of 18 cameras on the Leonard Center entrances and exits was installed this month. Staff in the building can view the camera video from their desk computers.

To prevent patrons from using emergency exit doors, plans are being made to install security alarms for the doors. The budget request for the project is $18,000, but Osterman is confident that the money will come through.

“The college has proved it will support safety and security [prior to this request],” Osterman said. “We wish it would’ve been in the building initially, but [we are] ultimately most concerned with safety and security.”

Even though crime has decreased, Gorman and Osterman urge students to be vigilant about any suspicious activity and to secure their belongings. Gorman says spring is the time of year when “opportunists show up on campus” to take advantage of students who set their bags down outside for a minute to catch some sunshine.

Students are encouraged to keep as few valuables with them as possible, and to use a lock in the Leonard Center locker rooms. The use of the Leonard Center has increased dramatically since its opening, Gorman said, and taking care of belongings in a crowded place should be common sense.