Projectors, fires and dueling misdemeanors

By Ruth Davenport

Last month, Campus Security dealt with rogue marijuana plants, firebugs, sleepy babysitters and black market home entertainment dealers.

"We handled 3,000 calls again, which is pretty standard," said Campus Security director Lanny Fritz. "This campus is a little city in itself, and yet it’s a very safe place to live, work and study. This campus has a very low crime rate."

The major incident was a campus classroom break and enter and the subsequent theft of a ceiling-mounted projector. The net loss due to the theft is estimated at $15,000.

"Things like home theatres have become very popular these days," explained Fritz. "Now there’s a black market created for them. That [projector] is a huge loss."

A potential tragedy was averted when a two-year-old child was found wandering the roadway near Varsity Courts in sub-zero weather. According to Fritz, the child’s babysitter had fallen asleep, allowing the child to make a break for freedom. The child was outside less than 10 minutes before being found and subsequently returned to his parents.

On a different note, a University employee found two marijuana plants growing in a planter among regular plants. The plants were removed and turned over to police for disposal.

"That happens every so often," said Fritz. "As a lark, someone will toss in a couple of seeds and then they’ll end up growing, and everyone’s a bit surprised. I think whoever’s responsible probably has a bit of a sense of humour and assumes that someone’s going to get a chuckle out of this a month down the road. That’s all it is."

Campus Security officers also responded to a fire alarm in the basement of the Education Building, activated by an act of arson which was potentially disastrous. Fritz explained that an individual had empied the shreddings from a number of garbage bags and set fire to them. Although no one was harmed, the damage was estimated at $20,000, including clean-up and the repair of damaged floor and wall tile.

Harassment reports topped the "crimes against persons" list with five reports to only one each of threat, sexual assault and assault. Fifteen occurrences of mischief and property damage edged out theft with only 12 reports as the most frequently occurring property crime.  Graffiti, fire, car prowling and break, enter and theft, were reported less than five times each. Campus security officers continue to prepare for BSD on April 12 and operate around the complications presented by MacEwan Hall expansion.

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