News

Counterfeit and computer theft

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In what Campus Security Manager Lanny Fritz calls a routine month, February brought computer thefts, more Den disturbances and some not-so-routine funny money.

Over a three-week period last month, counterfeit money was given to food vendors in MacEwan Student Centre on four separate occasions.

"We haven't received four such cases all within a one-month period before," said Fritz. "Typically, it's maybe once or twice a year."

Despite the abnormal frequency of occurrences, the Campus Security reaction was very routine. The money was promptly handed over to Calgary Police Services, who were also given names of witnesses for further investigation.

"That's all we do," said Fritz. "Because it's a criminal matter, we forward that information to CPS."

Fritz also pointed out that counterfeit money distribution is a relatively frequent occurrence throughout the city.

On a similar vein, a group claiming to represent the Nigerian government approached members of the university community through letters and e-mail. The letters asked for an investment promising a quick and high rate of return, a scam that originated in 1991.

"They've affectionately been called the Nigerian letters," said Fritz, pointing to his past experience with CPS. "The police have stopped documenting and compiling a file on these letters because the file drawer became so big."

Fritz said that despite ongoing efforts to battle this problem, the group still receives over $5 million every year, though nobody on campus was pulled into the scam. There's little to be done to address the problem by any criminal agencies in Canada.

"CPS can't investigate or do anything to a crime that originates from another continent," said Fritz.

Also last month, $3,500 in computer equipment was stolen from the ICT building. While this represents a substantial loss, it is a larger concern with Campus Security since, with initiatives like card scanners to get into computer labs, security in the building is tighter than other buildings on campus.

"We invest a lot of money into these card access systems and in many cases these systems are defeated by people who prop open doors or people that let somebody else in behind them," said Fritz. "The fact that we've had this one particular incident, still speaks well for a good security system. Without it, undoubtedly we would have had more thefts."

The Students' Union installed a card reader system in the Den last month, in response to recent security concerns in the Den and Black Lounge.

"It's extremely effective from our point of view and we're delighted the SU implemented that," said Fritz. "We view that initiative as something that's going to drastically reduce our problems on campus."

The system, SecureClub, tracks bar patrons by scanning their identification upon entrance, and keeping track of people who become problems. Linked with other bars in the city such as the Palace, the Den can be more selective in people they allow inside.

"Now we're able to track people from off campus that have been kicked out of other bars and other clubs-they won't be able to come here as well," said Fritz. "We're eliminating a group of people that are here to look for trouble, and because they're no longer going to be welcome here, that should drastically reduce the opportunity for assaults."

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Comments

Mr. Fritz claims that Secureclub's system has been "extremely effective" -- where is the evidence to support this? Does the uncertain security of a system that contains much personal information not concern Mr. Fritz? Is he aware that Secureclub is unwilling to discuss security and hold their software to scrutiny? It is patently absurd that the SU and Campus Security would employ such an untested system in what can only be described as a knee-jerk reaction to the few security problems, which have plagued the Den since 're-opening' as a place which veritably invites the trouble-making element.