Students are at risk of having their property stolen when they are in coffee shops or restaurants near NYU’s campus. Wallets, laptops and bags have been taken since February. This month alone there have been four thefts.
Stern freshman Aayush Gupta had his backpack stolen during spring break at Argo Tea on University Place. The backpack contained his laptop as well as other personal belongings.
“I arrived at the shop, ordered my drink, found a table to sit at, heard my name called for the order, ran over to grab the drink and the bag was gone within seconds,” Gupta said.
NYU spokesman Philip Lentz said the university makes numerous effort to raise awareness about thefts.
“Public Safety has long used the ‘Tag it’ program, where Public Safety officers put stickers on unaccompanied laptops to warn students of the danger of leaving their property unattended,” Lentz said. “It also displays awareness messages on library monitors.”
Public Safety, in partnership with individual schools and Student Life, also provides presentations and training for students on how they can stay safe and protect their property in the city.
Despite those efforts, NYU has not sent any emails alerting students about the recent theft incidents.
“We are aware of the risk that sending frequent alerts for thefts could desensitize students to alerts about more serious incidents,” Lentz said.
LS sophomore Samantha Chong said NYU should send an alert about the recent string of thefts.
“On one hand we should obviously be taking better care of ourselves because we’re adults, but on the other hand these things do really affect the students,” Chong said. “NYU is a community, and doesn’t community mean looking out for one another?”
In cases of theft on campus, the university carries out a procedure that involves an investigation after students report any incidents.
“When theft of property on campus is reported to NYU Public Safety, we gather information and immediately offer to assist in connecting the victim with NYPD,” Lentz said. “We also initiate our own investigation, interviewing witnesses and reviewing video footage of the area where the theft occurred.”
As part of any investigation, NYU issues alerts to all officers to be on the lookout for persons matching the description of any suspects. If a suspect is identified, NYU shares the images with the New York Police Department.
CAS freshman Andre Tan said he is careful to keep his belongings close when he is in public.
“I don’t think somebody would easily be able to sneak something from my backpack without me noticing, but I’m sure that’s what the victims of this thief also thought before they were robbed,” Tan said. “I’ll probably pay a little bit more attention to my belongings while I’m out and about in the city after hearing about this thief.”
Gupta said he is satisfied with NYU public safety procedures, but he added that students should be mindful of their surroundings.
“As secure and comfortable we’d like to feel in our university environment, we have to be interminably cautious,” Gupta said.
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, April 30 print edition. Marita Vlachou is a staff writer. Email her at [email protected]
*Correction: A previous version of this article mischaracterized the thefts as robberies.
WSN regrets the error