Courtesy of Cornell Police

A compilation of three still images from security tape shows a man and woman Cornell Police suspect of carrying out a string of thefts on campus Thursday.

March 19, 2017

Police Arrest 2 Suspected of Cornell Campus Backpack Thefts

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Police arrested a man and woman on Friday and charged them each with a felony for allegedly stealing valuables from students at Cornell after 11 backpacks containing nearly $12,000 worth of computers, cash and other items were reported stolen on Thursday.

Ithaca Police arrested Richard Huyler, 39, and April Mace, 31, on Friday afternoon and charged each with criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree, a class E felony. The charges stem from the Thursday thefts on campus, Cornell Police said.

Mace was a lead supervisor at Cornell from 2005 to 2014 — supervising more than 100 employees, assisting in payroll management and helping to open five dining halls across West Campus — according to posts on her Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.

Reached on Sunday afternoon, Melissa Osgood, deputy director of media relations, said she could not immediately confirm or deny whether Mace had been employed by Cornell.

“I start my new job Monday,” Mace wrote in a public Facebook post in November 2014. “Bad news is that I will be leaving Cornell, I will miss everybody the employees and the students !!!”

New York State Police arrested Huyler in January of 2016 and accused him of unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine, a felony, according to multiple news reports.

Huyler was remanded to the Tompkins County Jail on Friday without the option for bail and Mace is being held at the jail in lieu of $3,000 cash bail or $6,000 bond. Mace had not bailed out as of Sunday evening, according to a correction officer at the jail.

A plethora of items were reported stolen on Thursday: six Apple laptops, multiple U.S. passports, keys, textbooks, cash, debit cards, driver’s licenses, purses, an iPad and at least one iPhone, according to the campus crime log.

Items from nine of the 11 backpacks reported stolen have an estimated value of $11,777, the crime log shows. Police released grainy security camera images on Friday of a man and woman each holding a backpack.

Cornell Police Chief Kathy Zoner previously told The Sun it was not yet known whether the two suspects are thought to be responsible for all of the items reported stolen on Thursday. Zoner said the duo is suspected of committing at least several of the thefts.

Prof. Masha Raskolnikov, English, told The Sun that three of her students had their backpacks stolen while they were in The Carl A. Kroch Library for a research presentation.

The students were handling rare, old books, so they were required to leave their coats and backpacks outside of the lecture room in a designated area, Raskolnikov said.

When the students returned from the lecture, three of their backpacks — all holding computers — were gone, as well as a fourth student’s wallet and a fifth student’s cigarettes, the professor said. A student’s hat was taken as well, she said.

“All the students were writing papers for me on those laptops, and those students were having a genuine Cornell-only learning experience at the archives, which is a really special part of Cornell,” Raskolnikov said. “These people took advantage of how people are super trusting in this special place of learning.”

The area where students left their backpacks and coats looked like a safe place, Raskolnikov said, because a security camera is trained on the location and two librarians work closeby.

Raskolnikov said she was especially frustrated because the students had followed her and others’ requests to leave their bags outside of the lecture room and then returned to find some of their backpacks and valuables missing.

Louisa Heywood ’20 said her backpack full of workout clothes, running shoes and swim gear was taken from the first floor women’s locker room of Helen Newman Hall on Thursday.

Heywood, who writes for The Sun’s dining section, said she gave a written report to Cornell Police and an officer told her police had found the suspects when they attempted to use a stolen credit card.

Cornell Police also told Heywood she may not get her possessions back for several months because they will likely be used as evidence, Heywood said.

Another student, Meaghan Gee ’19, said her bag — full of school notes and handouts, a laptop, Beats headphones, a passport and lots of other items — was taken while she was working out in the Noyes Fitness Center on Thursday afternoon. It had been sitting right near the fitness monitors’ desk.