After a wave of laptop thefts swept campus in the past two months, the Department of Public Safety is developing strategies to keep students’ computers out of the hands of criminals.
Plans include publicizing DPS’s laptop registration program and reducing opportunities for laptops to be left unattended.
Though the registration program has existed for over 10 years, only a small percentage of the laptops on campus are currently registered, according to Associate Director of Public Safety Joseph Smith.
DPS is looking to increase the number of sign-ups, by setting up tables in Sellinger Lounge and Red Square to encourage students to participate in the voluntary program.
“Traditionally we’ve [tabled] at the beginning of the academic year. I’d like to increase that a bit . get it out there more,” Smith said.
He said that the program most likely will not deter criminals, but will make recovery easier for students who have lost their possessions. When a student registers a laptop, the serial number, model, color and description are recorded and a metal sticker is stamped on the bottom. That information can help identify the laptop if it is found. The registration fee is $10.
Smith is also drawing on student groups such as to garner support for the program. InterHall General Assemblyman Dalvin Butler (COL ’13) has met with Smith about reducing crime on campus.
“We want outreach to the Georgetown community to make sure they are aware that this program exists,” Butler said.
He is organizing a DPS presentation about laptop registration and theft prevention strategies for the Southwest Quad Community Council.
Smith and Butler are also working on some more novel efforts to keep student computers safe by targeting one of the most common reasons for leaving a laptop unattended – a bathroom break.
To help curb thefts in Lauinger Library, Smith is engaged in talks with the university’s librarian and administration about a plan to install “laptop shelves” in the building’s bathrooms.
Smith said he was the one who conceived the plan to place the shelves in the stalls. He has since met with Butler to help launch the campaign.
“At this time, we are determining the cost and where the funds would come from,” Butler said.
The two met on Tuesday to discuss the proposal and Butler said that he is looking to bring the issue to the InterHall Council.
“We expect this to be in place sometime in the spring semester,” he said.
Smith says registration and laptop shelves are just parts of a multi-pronged effort to reduce theft.
“We’re approaching [the problem] from multiple levels,” he said.
Smith emphasized that the most important way to reduce theft is student education.
“We’re working to make students more accountable. They shouldn’t be leaving their laptops unattended,” he said.
In the month of November, 24 laptops were stolen on campus according to DPS crime logs. Three of the thefts in the last week were unattended laptops in Lauinger.