Robbers target young victims

Kirsten Buchanan

Eager to finish her art project, senior Paige Bocklage opened the cabinet where she was storing her unfinished ring. She glanced at the shelves, suddenly confused. Her ring was missing.
With her heart racing, she told the art teachers it was gone, but they didn’t know where it was. Her search around the classroom also proved unsuccessful.
“I was extremely upset once I realized it was stolen because it was something I had personally made and not just bought,” Bocklage said. “It was a ring I had been working on for a very long time, and I was really proud of it.”
Bocklage couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to steal her ring, and even if she could find a reason, too many people had the opportunity to take it if they wanted. To her surprise, however, she eventually found her ring.
“Someone found my ring being kicked around in the hallway, so they returned it to the art department,” Bocklage said. “After my ring was stolen, we began locking the cabinet after each class to keep our work safe. I would suggest to students to be careful where they leave their things — especially ones that are important to them.”
Bocklage’s situation is common for teenagers. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, people ages 12 to 17 are much more likely than others to be victims of a property crime, with most of these crimes occurring at school.
When a robbery occurs on school grounds, police officer Latisha Stroer said police take multiple steps to retrieve the item. However, many times, such as in Bocklage’s case, the police cannot find who took the possession. Sometimes by a random chance, a person will find his item, but often it will stay missing forever.
“There are a lot of factors [to being able to find the stolen item] such as where … the item [was] stolen from. Do we have video surveillance of the suspect stealing the item or [were] there any witnesses to the crime?” Stroer said. “We find out … who knew they had the item [and] who they suspect of stealing the item.”
When there are no witnesses to a crime, it is difficult to solve. Senior Nate Egharevba trusted his P.E. class enough to not lock up his possessions during his Advanced Strength Training class, but one day he came back to discover something was out of place.
“I came down into the boys’ locker room and saw some of my clothes from my locker out on the floor. I thought I had forgot[ten] to lock some stuff up. When I opened my locker, [I] got the feeling everything had been moved and checked my pant pockets, and my wallet was there with all the money taken out,” Egharevba said. “My reaction was pissed off, like, I wanted to find out who did it and get my money back. I immediately found a different locker that I felt could keep my stuff better locked up.”
Because there are no security cameras in the locker room, Egharevba decided it wouldn’t be worth it to try and find his stolen money. Instead he chose to learn from the experience.
“I didn’t tell anyone. I just figured it was my fault for trusting one of those lockers,” Egharevba said. Afterward “I got a better locker that locks fully. I make sure before leaving the locker room that my locker is locked tight, and I don’t carry as much cash on me.”
Even though some crime goes unreported, Stroer said law officers take at least a couple of theft reports a day, although it varies on a day-to-day basis. By the age of 17, 43 percent of youth in the United States have stolen property worth $50 or less, according to the NCPC. Though crime is common at school, Stroer said there is a simple way to protect oneself.
“To help students prevent theft, the number one thing to do is to lock up your possessions. Do not flash how much money you have brought to school,” Stroer said. “The sure way to not get items like iPods, cell phones and money stolen is to not bring it to school in the first place.”
For Bocklage, however, having her art project at school was necessary. Although she was opposed to stealing beforehand, the experience of someone taking her ring only strengthened her dislike for robberies.
“I would never steal someone’s things, even if it was an easy target,” Bocklage said. “I’d be [that] person who continued to think about it years later because I felt so guilty. The idea just does not sit well with me.”
By Kirsten Buchanan