Still Out There: The Thievery Situation

Michael Gross In the midst of yet another year filled with impressive academic and athletic achievements, our safety is at risk. In past years, our accomplishments have been dampened by academic dishonesty and illegal substance abuse. The 2013-2014 school year has had some of those relatively minor academic dishonesty infractions, but it has also been effected by a much more serious issue: laptop theft. Starting in early October, the thefts began as a minor inconvenience. Most students, including myself, assumed that the security would take care of the issue immediately. However, it seems like each month we are reminded that the situation has only gotten worse. We were first reminded by our grade deans, then by Mr. Graf. Standing in front of the entire student body and faculty, Mr. Graf and head of security Mr. Guzman urged anyone who knew more about the thefts to come forward – “these thefts have done a real harm to our community – it has shaken our trust in one another.” As students walk around the hallway every day, still unaware of the thief’s identity, we can’t help but wonder: are we safe here at Latin? Several times, I have overheard and been a part of a discussion regarding the security here at Latin. Many students question the strength of the security if security cannot even catch a laptop thief. Amidst the frustration over the lack of protection of their personal belongings, people have become irrational in their complaints. Mr. Guzman tried to put an end to the speculation surrounding Latin’s security, reminding the students and faculty members that they are doing everything in their power, without becoming like “Big Brother” (an American TV show that follows a group of house guests living together 24 hours a day in the “Big Brother” house, isolated from the outside world, but under constant surveillance with no privacy for three months) and watching every move we make. With their lack of faith in our security, some students have decided to take things into their own hands. Recently, a group of seniors have been interviewing students to dig deeper into this prolonged mystery. The leader, who wishes to remain anonymous, simply “wants to help the community because it seems that very little is being done about it.” Several other students have talked about taking initiative, pondering the idea of setting a trap for the thief. However, none of these students have followed through with these preliminary ideas. This past week, as the ongoing mystery of the laptop thief continued, I had a chance to speak with one of the victims: junior Joey Sallerson. Contradicting what Mr. Guzman said about “Big Brother,” Joey said he “would rather have a little less privacy in order to have a little more security,” as he went on to suggest “putting cameras in places people leave their stuff” so the security can catch the thief. Joey and several other students used to leave their backpacks around the school, confident that people at Latin don’t steal. “Now,” Joey says, “the whole dynamic of the school has changed and security needs to step it up and return this place back to order.” English teacher Mr. Tempone feels very strongly about the subject. In response to the same questions I asked Joey, he had very different answers. Rather than expressing hatred or frustration toward the thief, Mr. Tempone conveyed sympathy – “For a person to continue this pattern of behavior, after all of the attention that has been given to it, he or she must be desperate in some way.” Mr. Tempone wants to learn of the identity of the thief for different motives than most. While others want to isolate the thief from the community, Mr. Tempone wants to help. Mr. Tempone went on to suggest that “there is an important distinction to be made between thinking the laptops are being stolen as a result of some sinister act and the laptops being stolen out of a desperate act of necessity.” As for the safety of the school, Mr. Tempone is confident that the security will do their job, commenting that he “has never been in a safer school than Latin.” When looking through the lens of behavior and discipline, Latin has had an exceptional year; through a lens of privacy and safety, however, Latin has struggled. There is certainly a new fear and vigilance in the atmosphere, but it is natural to be afraid of the unknown. Mr. Tempone believes that “until this person comes forward, until we know where this is coming from and why, we are always going to wonder.” And that uncertainty, in itself, is unsafe. As for moving forward, you can trust that the security will do their job, or join forces with the seniors looking for other ways to help their community. Hopefully, one way or another, the mystery will come to an end before the school year. And hopefully the leading article of the next and final issue of the Forum is “Restored Trust: The Laptop Mystery Solved.”]]>