Last Thursday, 74 lockers in the basement of the Leacock Building were vandalized. A still unknown person or persons cut the locks and rifled through the contents of the lockers most likely between 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. As of Friday evening, some students had reported missing items, mostly of little value.
Arts Undergraduate Society Vice-President Communications Phil Holdsworth was in the AUS office when the vandalism occurred, but was unaware of it at the time. He only found out later when a student approached him asking why his lock had been cut. It was then that Holdsworth checked the lockers and realized that there was more than just one lock that had been cut.
After speaking with AUS President R.J. Kelford, all of the members of AUS Executive were called and told to report to the office. McGill Security was also called but the AUS Executive found them to be very unhelpful.
“We were looking to them for help, and when we explained the situation all they had to say was ‘Yeah, that is bad.’ They didn’t offer any support or guidance,” said Kay Turner, AUS VP external.
Kelford also had problems with security. He said that he found security rude in dealing with the situation. According to Kelford, they didn’t show up for 20 minutes after the first call was placed and left before any conclusion about the situation was reached.
The Executive did find out that there are no cameras in the basement of Leacock, preventing any possible identification of the culprit. There used to be a camera outside the AUS office door, but it was removed several years ago.
“We camped out in the hallway until the building closed to make sure nothing else got taken,” Kelford said.
Kelford was concerned with what to do with all of the students’ belongings that were now left in open lockers. A decision was made to bag everything individually according to the locker number and keep it locked up in a conference room in the AUS lounge.
“There wasn’t any precedent for this, so we finally figured that all liabilities aside, locking up students’ belongings would be in the best interest of the students. If we didn’t, their possessions would be left open to opportunists,’ Kelford said.
So far, all of the students have been grateful for the actions AUS has taken. Most students have been lucky and had all of their belongings returned to them. However, a few had gym bags stolen and one student reported a digital camera missing. The AUS is selling combination locks at cost at SNAX in Leacock so students can immediately use the lockers again. A few students have requested a refund on their lockers because they no longer feel safe storing their belongings at school.
None of the students’ belongings are covered under AUS insurance or McGill insurance. The only time McGill is responsible for theft in the Leacock Building is Christmas Day because it is the only day that access to the building is completely restricted. Students will have to rely on any personal or family insurance policies to claim their losses.
Lack of security in the Leacock Building is an issue that building director Professor Michael Bisson has addressed in his annual reports for several years. He has made multiple recommendations that more security cameras should be in place in the Leacock building, especially because it is such a high traffic area.
There are no security cameras at the third floor entrance to the building, which could have allowed the culprit to vandalize the lockers and leave the building without ever being caught on tape. The third floor doors also exit onto a public street making it easy for anyone to make a quick getaway.
A police report will be filed this week when all students have claimed their belongings.
McGill Security was not available for comment at press time.
If your locker was broken into, please report it to the AUS office, Leacock B-12, to pick up any belongings that were left and file a report if anything was taken.