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Three Fall Prey to Pickpockets

By Sarah Y. Keightley
News Editor

In a series of similar incidents, three people have been pickpocketed on campus since Nov. 23. Two incidents occurred at the main entrance of 77 Massachusetts Ave., and the other occurred in the Student Center.

Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin did not release the names of the victims, but she said she believes they were students rather than staff or faculty.

The suspects were "targeting people carrying backpacks and pocketbooks -- anyone carrying something that might be of value," she said. This included wallets and checkbooks.

A Campus Police crime bulletin described the pickpocketing method used by the suspects. As the victim walked through a doorway, the suspect walking in front of the victim suddenly stopped and reversed direction, thereby bumping into the victim. Behind the victim, the second suspect then snatched his or her backpack or pocketbook.

According to the bulletin, "In all cases the victims have described the suspects as follows: black males, 5 feet 9 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall, both approximately 25 years old. One was wearing a three-quarter length light green coat and brown stocking cap. The second suspect was wearing a brown leather bomber jacket, blue jeans, and sneakers."

Plainclothes Campus Police officers have been patrolling the area this week and last week in an effort to catch the thieves. Using plainclothes officers is not an unusual measure, Glavin said.

"This is one of the easiest crimes to prevent," she said. Students should be careful with what they carry, avoid keeping wallets and checkbooks in accessible parts of backpacks and pocketbooks, and not leave their backpacks and pocketbooks unzipped, she added.

Glavin noted that pickpocketing is not unusual, but that Campus Police sent out the crime bulletins because these crimes incidents represent "a recent rash" of the crime.

Student reaction

In general, students are not aware of the pickpocketing incidents. "I know there's a lot of theft and muggings going on, but I didn't know about the pickpocketing," Yurah Kim '94 said.

"I didn't know any [pickpocketing] was going on -- it's not surprising," said Kristen K. Nummerdor '93.

John M. Shavel '94 said he was actually surprised that more incidents of pickpocketing have not occurred. "MIT students are oblivious most of the time anyway. ... Just look at the way some of them cross at 77 Massachusetts Ave.," he said. If there were more pickpocketing, students would be more conscious of their surroundings, Shavel added.