Wave of campus thefts target credit cards

A rash of recent office thefts has the Campus Public Safety Office (CPSO) concerned that there may be a coordinated group of thieves pilfering property on campus.

Office theft is a common problem at PSU, as at all Oregon universities, according to CPSO Lt. Craig Whitten, however the campus has been experiencing it more than usual lately.

The string of recent thefts prompted CPSO to send an e-mail warning faculty to be on the lookout for the culprits.

According to the CPSO e-mail, thieves have stolen from offices while people are working in them, walking right in front of the office staff, and often offering a seemingly plausible reason for being there.

In many cases credit cards have been taken, while leaving other items in wallets or purses behind, the e-mail warned. The tactic can make the thefts more difficult to notice, allowing "the thief to utilize the card before immediately being detected."

According to Whitten, officers have received differing descriptions of suspects, but the e-mail sent by the campus security office characterized the thieves as a "highly organized group" and CPSO is investigating possible connections between recent thefts.

Whitten would not comment on the details of the thefts, saying that he could not divulge details about an ongoing investigation. However, bags, purses and wallets have all been stolen over the past two months, in one case totaling more than $850. In other cases items were taken from offices thought to be locked, according to the CPSO crime blotter.

The Campus Public Safety Office encourages campus office employees to report any suspicious activity.

Last summer CPSO reported a similar string of thefts. At the time Whitten commented more crimes had been reported than in the previous year.