By Vincent Noteboom
— It is common for those of us who use the Excellent and Diverse group on Facebook to come across people who request the return of their property to one of the bike sheds or common rooms. Many of us experience theft on some level throughout our time as AUC students. Most of the time property can be retrieved. However, when the theft was done by people, who don’t live in the dorms, this becomes a different situation entirely.
Last year The Herring ran a story on a group of boys, thieves, who were taking advantage of the trust people have in the dorms. Such trust and the maintenance issues, which sometimes occur in the dorms, result in easy access for people through the courtyard doors and emergency exits. The entrance furthest from AUC did not have any electrical power for several months. This resulted in the entrance and dorm string doors being unlocked for a long period of time. Thankfully, the perpetrators of last year’s burglaries had been apprehended with the help of some AUC students and the Dutch police.
However, the existence of seemingly frequent theft does not change the perception people have of the dorms. After a short poll on the Excellent and diverse Facebook group, where the options ranged from very safe-safe-neither safe nor unsafe — unsafe and very unsafe, not a single student identified with feeling unsafe or very unsafe. This feeling of safety could be one of the several underlying reasons why people are not concerned with the prevention of theft.
Theft in the dorms commonly occurs as one of three types. The first being AUC students stealing from other AUC students; this includes the removal of property from the common rooms and bike sheds. The second is the removal of property by DUWO. The third is theft by people who don’t live in the dorms themselves. It is very uncommon that students steal very valuable property like laptop or phones. Stealing from other students is mostly about a property which is seemingly abandoned or of low value, this, however, does not mean that it is not stealing. “Furniture always disappears from our common room. Our common room never was the most well furnished but sometimes it is inconvenient,” said Tobias Romein a second-year humanities major.
It was at the start of this semester that the common room of myself was emptied out, a common occurrence. Therefore, many strings have a policy of always locking the common room, this of course fails plenty of times. Other strings put up signs requesting people to not remove any of their property, this helps to a certain extent.
“Me and some friends use a balcony which had been emptied out before at the start of the semester. Once we finally refurnished it and cleaned it up, we hanged notes everywhere requesting people not to take anything. It works everything is still there,” said Luca Arens a second-year humanities major.
This all fits into a criminological theory called the broken windows theory, which dictates that if a location is more visually appealing than the one next to it, like a clean and nicely furnished common room, people are less prone to vandalize and steal from it. So, if you wish to preserve your common room and protect your property; lock the door, hang up a sign and keep it nicely organized and clean.
Nevertheless, these steps will not help against the second type of theft which is also the most occurring, DUWO removing property. Locking doors does not really help if they have the key. This goes from small things, like confiscating bikes for an extended time, to larger things like emptying out complete common rooms filled with student’s property. One AUC-student Simon Molenaar was moving this summer and placed his property in a common room:
“A friend of mine placed my property temporarily in a completely furnished and in use common room. While this property was placed in the common room our caretaker from DUWO itself helped moving it in. Then the next day the property was removed. The caretaker from DUWO then remarked that putting it in a common room was unwise, oddly she didn’t make that comment when the property was moved into the common room. The room was locked the entire Thursday before the removal, other people from that string could vouch for that. One of those living on the string also saw and removed DUWO warning stickers from the property on Thursday,” Simon Molenaar explained. It isn’t definitive that DUWO took this property but Simon Molenaar and those around him are convinced the probability of it being stolen by somebody else is very small. This wouldn’t be the first instance of DUWO removing property. “They cleared 5 of my bikes, all of which except 1, were in ridable conditions,” said George Jenkins.
The third type which occurs most rarely, but can have very serious consequences, is theft by people from outside of AUC. It happened to Joon Colaianni, a third-year social science major, in her first semester. She was heading home to her four-person dorm room. Her window was close to one of the balconies. “My roommate gave me her key and when I walked inside the door was unlocked but I remembered that she locked the door. I went to my room and couldn’t find my keys. I felt a bit weird so I went to look on my bed where my laptop was supposed to be and it was missing along with my roommate’s bike,” she said.
Preventing theft as much as possible means you should keep all doors that lead outside the building always locked. Never leave your dorm room unlocked and if you’re close to one of the balconies keep your windows locked when you are not home. Furthermore, hang up notes on common rooms, keep everything you wish to preserve neat and organized. Finally whenever something truly is a problem just contact the DUWO, AUC or the Dutch police. The latter is truly really helpful.
Report crime anonymously 0800-7000
Police number for emergencies 112
Police number for non-emergencies 0900-8844