Theft leaves centre feeling ‘violated’

Photo by Rebecca Allison

Photo by Rebecca Allison

A theft from the Centre for Women and Trans People has left volunteers and staff feeling violated.

The theft was discovered on March 24 at 10:00 a.m., by Krystal Gies, volunteer coordinator for the CWT, when she arrived for her volunteer hours.

She noticed their computer, which was a Mac desktop, keyboard and mouse were missing.

Gies, along with Carrie Greig, education and inclusion coordinator for the Diversity and Equity Office, immediately contacted Special Constable Service.

Greig, who is usually the first to arrive at the office, said she didn’t notice anything unusual that morning and nothing else had been damaged or gone missing.

“It’s unfortunate because it really just speaks to that whole piece about safety and feeling like — you know, there are a lot of offices here, so for me it speaks to coming in and feeling like there was a violation of space,” Greig said.

The CWT is meant to create a safe space for marginalized groups, Gies explained.

So, it was “scary to think that someone took that away from [them].”

Lynn Kane, acting manager of the DEO, said the office puts a lot of trust in their volunteers and the people who use their spaces. This is part of what makes the impact of the incident difficult to deal with.

“It wasn’t so much the loss of the computer,” Greig said. “But the loss of all of the information that was on the computer because there was years of projects on there that it was great to have reference to.”

Some information from the computer had been saved on USBs and online, but Gies said they have recently been working on two projects that their progress has now been lost on.

“We would never think that this would have happened — ever,” she said. “But now we’ll be taking more precautions in the future to make sure everything is backed up.”

David Borch, the special constable who is working on the investigation, said SCS is working with Information Technology and other university partners in an effort to locate the computer.

“Obviously it’s a big loss for a small department at the university that is mostly run by volunteers,” he said. “So we do want to get it back.”

Although there are security cameras located at the entrance of MacDonald House residence, Gies said they were told the CWT office was too far away to be able to see anything.

Gies doesn’t believe the perpetrator was a volunteer.

According to Kane, there are many explanations for how the theft could have occurred.

“It could have been left unlocked,” she said.

“We’re across from the laundry room and also where student tours happen down this office because we are in a residence building. So there’s a lot of people who can see what’s present here, who would be exposed to that.”

Borch said thefts from offices on campus are rare. Most thefts of computers occur when people have left belongings unattended. To safeguard against thefts, he recommended never leaving property unguarded.

As well, ensuring you have information about your device, such as serial numbers and airport IDs, is important.

“If it’s something that goes missing and we have that information we have a better chance of getting it back,” Borch explained.

Borch and the DEO encourage anyone who might have information about the theft to call SCS or Waterloo Regional Police Service.

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