A sudden increase in the theft of computer data projectors on campus means someone is getting a good deal on home entertainment equipment.
The computer data projectors, located in many classrooms around campus, have a retail value of anywhere from $6,000-$10,000 apiece and have been disappearing with alarming frequency. The stolen projectors are resold to individuals or pawnshops for use in projecting images onto big screen TVs.
Eight to 10 projectors have been stolen in the last year, bringing the total loss to "between $40,000 to $50,000 at least," estimates a Com/Media employee.
"One [stolen projector] turned up for servicing from a bar downtown," said Keith Mills, the classroom services supervisor for Com/Media. "The repair company found the U of C ID tag."
The local sports bar had apparently used the stolen projector to show sporting events.
The decreasing size of these projectors, along with improvements in technology, has made them increasingly easy to steal from carts or even from the ceilings where they are sometimes installed.
"They can be concealed," said Campus Security Manager Lanny Fritz.
This problem is not isolated to the U of C campus. Projectors have been stolen from locations across Calgary including SAIT, Mount Royal College and various other venues. This makes Mills think the thefts may be connected.
"It looks like it's organized," theorized Mills. "[The projectors] disappear so efficiently."
Measures are being taken by both the university and the projector manufacturers to thwart theft.
"New projectors have security features," explained Mills, adding these features include a U of C logo upon startup and a password. "If removed from the power source, [the new projectors] cannot be restarted without a password."
"This is a wide-scale problem if manufacturers are putting in theft deterrents," said Fritz.
The university caught one culprit in September due to their improved security. A male was caught on camera stealing a projector from a storage room.
"He has been charged and is presently facing the courts," said Fritz.
The accused man is not affiliated with the university in any way.