April 28, 2003

Theft Rises at Frat Parties

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According to a Cornell University Police Department (CUPD) and Ithaca Police Department crime alert issued to the Cornell community last Wednesday, there have been a number of thefts at the University and at Cornell-affiliated buildings. The alert named the addresses of three fraternities.

“We are mandated by the Clery Act to notify the community,” said Sgt. Phillip D. Mospan of the CUPD. The Clery Act federally mandates that police notify college communities when there is an increase of crime.

The purpose of the act is to heighten awareness among the community. To many Cornell students, however, theft at Greek parties is hardly unusual.

“My apartment-mate from [Sigma Alpha Epsilon] got his North Face [jacket] stolen from his own house, which was very frustrating,” said Scott Kurpiel ’05.

Although the crime alert mentioned wallets, purses and cell phones being stolen, coats and jackets are also frequently targets of theft.

Many believe that theft can be avoided if certain items are left at home.

“[Cornell students should] bring only things that they need,” said Leo Pedraza, assistant dean of fraternity and sorority affairs.

But this is often easier said than done: “It was cold and rainy — that’s why I wore a jacket,” said Austin Sands ’06, who had his jacket stolen this semester.

At many fraternity and sorority parties, coats are kept on a designated couch or in a room. However, the fraternities and sororities are not considered responsible for these items if they are stolen. With the recent crime alert, fraternities and sororities may invoke measures to prevent theft at their parties.

“If there was a secure area with a supervised person, that would be optimum,” Mospan said.

However, such a coat check would require people to continuously watch the items of clothing.

If responsibility was placed on Greek houses, a person would be required to guard the coats at all times, which some Greek houses view as a hassle. Other houses have already instituted coat checks.

“At a lot of crush parties and stuff, a lot of the time they have coat checks,” said Brendan Buhmann ’03.

But the question is open for other Greek parties.

“I think it would be a good idea. They could charge for that and make money,” Sands said.

The potential to generate a profit from coat checks could possibly make them worth the hassle, say students. Many have said that they do not mind paying a reasonable amount for a coat check.

“If I was wearing a coat, I’d pay a dollar for a coat check,” Buhmann said.

The Sun was unable to reach representatives from the fraternities named in the crime alert in time for publication.

Archived article by Cheryl Mensah