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Feb. 4, 2005

Series of thefts occur at Blair

by Varun Gulati, Page Editor
Three students were apprehended by Feb. 3 in connection with a recent string of thefts, according to Officer Penn and Business Manager Laurie Checco.

In the latest incident, senior Heather Baker was pick-pocketed on Feb. 3 during a passing period. Her wallet was later found minus a credit card and $38.

On Jan. 26 at the end of lunch, sophomores Patrick McQuighan and Aaron Townsend and junior Greg Howard had their backpacks stolen. "I was just hanging out with friends and stuff," said Howard, who, like Townsend, didn't report the theft immediately. McQuighan went to Blair security twice but found that they were unable to help.

The next day, sophomore Vincent Agard and juniors Eric Esch and Jessica Bermudez had their backpacks stolen. Agard went to the Security Office, followed by Esch, Bermudez and Howard, who then realized that their three backpacks were not simply missing. Later, Townsend also reported his theft from the day before.

In response to the thefts, an announcement was made on Jan. 27, which alerted the school of three recent theft reports and cautioned students to take care of their belongings in the SAC. At the time of the announcement, at least six thefts had been brought to the attention of Blair security.

The next day, another student reported a missing backpack. On Feb. 2, junior Austin Fang's backpack was stolen and found during lunch, when he immediately went to the Security Office.

PTSA reaction

Meanwhile, on the Yahoo! Blair PTSA Network group, parents of Blair students responded to Blair parent Diane Martin's message that her son's (Townsend) backpack had been stolen. One parent, Tracy Yaffe, said she had worked a whole year trying to get the attention of the administration after her son's backpack was stolen last year and recovered without a missing cell phone, calculator, Spanish textbook and house key.

Yaffe, upset by the losses, wrote a seven-page letter that proposed strategies on what to do when a student is a victim of property theft. "The goal [of the document] was to place this [property theft] into the forefront of the school community as a serious crime," she wrote in a message on the Yahoo! Group. "Property theft is serious because it is student-on-student not a good way to build a learning community."

Yaffe presented the document to Principal Philip Gainous and called the administration, the Security Office and Montgomery County police several times. Lena Zezulin, a PTSA member, wrote two letters to Gainous suggesting that students pile backpacks and coats in a specific, guarded area of the SAC. On Feb. 1, PTSA co-president Fran Rothstein met with Gainous and Blair Business Manager Laurie Checco, who agreed to respond to Yaffe and Zezulin's concerns.

Several PTSA members also complained that Blair security was not taking enough responsibility for the thefts. "The security officer should treat the student as a victim and not suggest in any way that the student or his friends are responsible for the theft," Yaffe stated in her letter.

Blair security's response

Blair security felt that it was not feasible for security to keep track of the property of every student. "We have eight or nine security on staff and 3,400 students, realistically," said Penn, who also said that some students were not notifying security the same day as their theft.

Security guard Cedric Boatman agreed with Penn, adding that most things that people report "stolen" are actually in the Lost & Found. "There are people stealing things, but it's not as common as it seems," he said.

However, some backpacks do not end up in the Lost & Found by the Security Office. Townsend's backpack was found in a different Lost & Found by the SAC, and last year, Yaffe's son was unable to utilize his backpack for three weeks; it was lying in a department office.

According to Security Team Leader Edward Reddick, backpacks are often stolen because students do not take responsibility for their items. "In any public environment, each individual has the responsibility to safeguard their property," he said. Most of the theft victims agreed that they were not watching their property.

Missing and recovered items

Upon arriving at the Security Office, students were instructed by security to fill out a form with information about the theft and were then asked whether or not they had checked bathrooms. "Apparently, [thefts] happen, and the backpacks appear in bathrooms," said Esch.

Security searched bathrooms and returned the backpacks and jackets of Howard, whose calculator was stolen, and Esch, whose mp3 player was stolen. "[My backpack] had been partially submerged the toilet," said Howard.

Others also reported missing items: Townsend was missing his calculator and watch; Bermudez was missing her calculator and cell phone; Fang was missing his flash drive, calculator, CDs and $5 in cash; McQuighan and Agard have not gotten their backpacks back.

On the day after their backpack thefts, Esch and Bermudez went twice to the security office but found that it was closed. "If they were to look back at the security tapes, they would probably need me to identify my backpack," said Esch. "It doesn't look like they'll find me to do that."

However, Rothstein reassured another concerned parent that the tapes would be reviewed. "If a student knows (and reports) where s/he was when a crime occurred, and when the crime occurred, the security staff will review the appropriate video," she wrote in a message on the Yahoo! PTSA Group.

To prevent further thefts, Rothstein suggested that students engrave possessions with their name and ID number or any other identifying piece of information.

Rothstein has also allocated a portion of this month's PTSA meeting, which will occur on Feb. 15, to the thefts at Blair. "Our goals for that segment of the meeting are to a) inform you of policies and procedures in place and the rationales behind them, b) provide feedback and any additional recommendations to the Blair Administration,\ and c) offer recommendations to all about how to minimize theft and other crime in the future," she wrote in her e-mail to the PTSA.



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  • Katie S on February 5, 2005 at 12:19 AM
    I left my backpack unattended during lunch last year, and I had 30 dollars stolen. Yeah....that was pretty dumb.
  • 06tilee on February 5, 2005 at 5:49 PM
    Blair is so...grr now. Seriously, who ever is doing this needs to stop.
  • Pratik Bhandari on February 5, 2005 at 5:59 PM
    I never thought it was really that bad to leave my stuff for five minutes, but i guess now we all have to start paying more attention to these things...
  • why ??? on February 5, 2005 at 10:18 PM
    what are the reason to steal anather people stuff after that person haved work a lot for that item. i sugesst that we need more security and more cams becuase that is imposible
  • mike on February 5, 2005 at 11:55 PM
    honestly the people who get their backpacks stolen deserve to get them stolen...they leave them unattended and anyone walking by could easily pick them up...and seeing as how most of the targeted are relatively rich magnets because of their higher income, well being magnets they should be smart enough to actually watch their belongings...
  • John McManigle on February 6, 2005 at 2:29 AM
    "unable to utilize his backpack"

    I can see Ms. Fleischaker cringing...
  • Andrew '08 on February 6, 2005 at 5:57 AM
    Security shouldn't be responsible for every little item picked up because you left it in the SAC, it's true, but when a string of backpack robberies occurs it might be time for them to take a little more action. Sounds like security's shirking some of their responsibilities. It's not their job to walk around telling kids to put on their IDs, it's to SECURE THE SCHOOL from concerns outside AND inside.

    I suggest a sting operation, perhaps several at once to increase the likelihood of someone going for it. Put a few backpacks at tables in the SAC and locker areas in the main hallway. Sit across the room or hallway and watch what happens. Make it a periodic activity. Punishment AND deterrent!
  • jmh on February 6, 2005 at 7:44 AM
    good story varun, keep cranking 'em out boy!
  • Anonymous on February 6, 2005 at 9:07 AM
    "Three students were apprehended by Feb. 3 in connection with a recent string of thefts, according to Officer Penn and Business Manager Laurie Checco. "

    we want to know more about this....are they the right people? do they have the stuff?
  • the sad truth on February 6, 2005 at 6:08 PM
    how can you say that anyone deserves to get their backpack stolen?! just because someone may have a nice backpack doesn't neccessarily mean they're rich, also. if someone needs money THAT badly, i say take the money (you shouldn't carry it in your pack anyway), but leave me the school stuff inside my backpack. it would be terrible to lose all of the papers and whatnot you've been working on all semester. as far as security, unfortunately not many people feel safe or respected by other students inside blair and we probably need more of it.
  • Magnet 05 on February 6, 2005 at 9:58 PM
    "Being magnets they should be smart enough to actually watch their belongings"? What, does magnet status mean that we are above making stupid mistakes? Or do you mean that non-magnets are not smart enough to watch their things? Mike, you're insulting both of us with that statement. I empathize with anyone who had their backpack stolen, magnet or not. Last year, my wallet was stolen from inside my pants which were inside a bag on a top shelf of the dressing room. The people stealing these things are obviously pretty clever. Let's not place blame on others who don't deserve it, alright?
  • Decker on February 6, 2005 at 11:24 PM
    I'm gonna deck the next person that tries to pick-pocket me, it's happens all the time.
  • luis (View Email) on February 7, 2005 at 8:39 AM
    wow that suck hope every one find the stuff
  • mike on February 7, 2005 at 10:26 AM
    to the sad truth:
    no being magnet doesn't mean that you are above making mistakes, but it does mean you should be extra careful seeing as how magnets are the primary targets...im a magnet too but at least im smart enough to keep my stuff close and valuables out of reach...and actually id imagine the non-magnets are smarter and more street smart than the nerdy dork magnets who dont think anything could happen to them because they are high and haughty as magnets
  • Anonymous on February 7, 2005 at 1:23 PM
    "To prevent further thefts, Rothstein suggested that students engrave possessions with their name and ID number, or any other identifying piece of information."

    So if we engrave all of our posessions, it will magically repel all the "sticky fingers" at Blair?

    The only thing that has really bothered me is security's response to thefts. They think it wasn't actually stolen but you simply misplaced all of your posessions, and you left your backpack open with all your stuff all over the ground. Although it is somehow understandable that with a school of 3400+ kids it is hard to keep track of everything, the fact that you literally have to keep a hand on every single one of your possesions only lends to how secure the school actually is.
  • Anonymous on February 7, 2005 at 1:32 PM
    "To prevent further thefts, Rothstein suggested that students engrave possessions with their name and ID number, or any other identifying piece of information."

    So if we engrave all of our posessions, it will magically repel all the "sticky fingers" at Blair?

    The only thing that has really bothered me is security's response to thefts. They think it wasn't actually stolen but you simply misplaced all of your posessions, and you left your backpack open with all your stuff all over the ground. Although it is somehow understandable that with a school of 3400+ kids it is hard to keep track of everything, the fact that you literally have to keep a hand on every single one of your possesions only lends to how secure the school actually is.

    To mike:
    I'd get a reality check there buddy. First of all, if you are really a magnet and want to post something that would even be considered, post your actual name. Secondly, saying "honestly the people who get their backpacks stolen deserve to get them stolen...they leave them unattended and anyone walking by could easily pick them up...and seeing as how most of the targeted are relatively rich magnets because of their higher income, well being magnets they should be smart enough to actually watch their belongings..." shows how little you know about anything.
  • mike on February 7, 2005 at 4:44 PM
    oh yeah last comment by mike hawk was to magnet 05 also
  • ... on February 7, 2005 at 5:19 PM
    rich magnets...what? i am magnet. i'm not rich. i watch my stuff most of the time and i had TWO calculators stolen from me.
  • magnet 08 on February 7, 2005 at 5:25 PM
    wait, how am i a primary target? i think most everyone in school has a calculator. and quite a few people have cellphones. but other than that, i have nothing of any value. if i had an mp3 player, someone might want that, but guess what, lots of people have those too. magnets aren't higher targets than non magnets. people that aren't watching their stuff [magnet and non mangets alike] are primary targets...

    great, now you have me paranoid and i think that the non magnets are going to beat me up cuz i am a "primary target"...
  • Tatumli on February 7, 2005 at 5:33 PM
    A have to say, the security reaction pretty much disgusted me. They somehow think you should know you have to notify the police, though there is a box for them to fill out at the bottom that says "police notification". Also, for some odd reason, they seem to think that it is your responsibility to keep your stuff safe. It should be theirs to get it back if you lose it. Not yours. That is why they are there, and admitidly, while they do get it back. However, even when supplied with further info on the stuff that was removed, for example, my backpack was stolen, and I got it back, but without the cell phobne and calculator, they do not do anything. Even when they could.
  • yay varun! on February 7, 2005 at 7:22 PM
    woot, gj varun! =]
  • mike on February 7, 2005 at 8:25 PM
    magnets are a lot richer actually...of course not all but most are definitely above average income compared to the rest of blair...and im sure that the regulars know this too and take advantage of it...so yes magnets are a primary target...the story doesnt mention it but yes most if not all of the above mentioned ppl are magnets...of course there are other thefts but notice how the serious ones that deserve silver chips news coverage are ones which involve magnets
  • A Guy on February 7, 2005 at 8:28 PM
    mike hawk, your reaction is disgusting. You're promoting what's essentially a form of violence against a group. In fact, you're using the fact that people are members of a group to try and justify this violence against them.
  • mike on February 7, 2005 at 8:39 PM
    to the guy who posted at 132pm
    isnt it ironic that you told me to post my real name while you refrained from doing so? and how does it show how little i know? i know becuz i was actually around when ppl made off with the bags...all the ppl sitting in that area live in higher income uppercounty areas such as potomac and such...
    now think about this...if you were one of those thieves would you rather target poor people or people who are relatively richer? if you're a smart criminal i think the answer is obvious...
    maybe it goes to show how much you dont know
  • mike on February 8, 2005 at 12:55 PM
    to a guy
    im not promoting anything...im telling you whats going on because silver chips cant...they have to remain neutral on the topic but im telling you what IS happening...how are my explanations promoting anything? the fact is magnets are being targeted because the thieves do think they are better targets...which is true...so maybe magnets should pay more attention is all im trying to say
  • abdullah jamaal on February 8, 2005 at 5:54 PM
    I feel sorry for the people that have gotten their stuff stolen, but I'm going to have to go with "mike hawk" .

    He's not promoting anything, "A Guy". He's stating facts. You look at the victims and you can tell most are magnets. As good criminals, they targeted the people most likely to have valuable stuff, the rich white and Asian students from Potomac. Everyone knows the average magnet student is wealthier than the average regular student. Of course, that's not true for every magnet student (like maybe "magnet 08") and "rich white / Asian from Potomac" doesn't describe every mag student. What he's saying is, if you look like a magnet student or sit with a lot of other magnet students, yes... you probably will be a target.

    C'mon people. Quit giving mike hawk a hard time. He's been right about everything (except the "they should be smart enough" comment). People, especially magnet students, need to be more careful.
  • Libertarian Blazer on February 8, 2005 at 6:47 PM
    Mike -

    You, sir, are a moron.
  • anonymous on February 8, 2005 at 9:12 PM
    none of this would've happened if people didn't leave their stuff unattended. they should take more responsibility in watching over their belongings.
  • mike on February 8, 2005 at 9:17 PM
    well libertarian i dont see what so moronic about stating the facts and opinions of whats happening...what do you have to say that will make you sound so smart?
  • Hawk on February 8, 2005 at 9:35 PM
    I demand that Libertarian Blazer's comment be removed because it is hurting my brother's feelings. Anyway he has lost faith in Silver Chips so I will be typing for him.
  • mike on February 8, 2005 at 10:18 PM
    yes as another person named mike i strongly agree with mike hawk. magnets are obviously being targeted because for the most part most are richer than the rest of the regular blair population.
  • Heather Baker (View Email) on February 9, 2005 at 2:08 PM
    My wallet was never found. Someone in a class of mine said they saw a wallet in the hallway but that it was empty. Point is, I never got it back.



    The money in my wallet was from my Nana and my Baby brother for my 18th birthday, which was the day before my wallet was taken. The credit card was in my own name, as I actually have to work for my money. In order to replace everything in the wallet, I'd have to work about 10 hours. That's pretty much my whole weekend.


    Thanks a lot to whoever stole my wallet. You definitely taught me to be a little more aware and careful.
  • Libertarian Blazer on February 9, 2005 at 7:23 PM
    Mike -

    I cannot believe that you would actually say that anybody would deserve to have their stuff stolen. These people didn't deserve to have their stuff stolen any more than a girl absent-mindedly walking down a bad street has to be raped. And trust me, it wasn't the fact that these magnets were "high and haughty" that their stuff was robbed. It is that they put their stuff down and lost track of it...something that would denote absent-mindedness far more than arrogance. Perhaps the only arrogant one is you - trust me, if a thief wanted to take your stuff, there's really very little that you could do about it; you're just luckier than your magnet compatriots who were robbed - your so-called "street smarts" had very little to do with it (and, judging from the fact that you are a sheltered suburbanite who probably hasn't spend a day of your life on city streets, my guess would be that you have as few street smarts than any other magnet).
  • mike on February 9, 2005 at 8:58 PM
    to libertarian:
    im arrogant because i know what im doing...ive been the victim of theft before too and no one is ever cautious until something happens to them...and referring to your sheltered suburbanite comment...well i grew up in the streets of inner boston for 11 years...maybe thats where i pick up my street smarts from...so please dont assume that just because i am a magnet makes me a spoiled little rich kid because trust me...11 years of life in city streets makes you much more wary about these things...so next time please refrain from assuming about the life of others because you have no idea on that aspect...and when you get proven wrong it just makes you look extremely ignorant
  • Anonymous on February 10, 2005 at 8:25 AM
    "no one is ever cautious until something happens to them"

    and when something happens to them they still can't be cautions enough, unless you want to go live as a hermit. with everything comes risk and you just have to deal with it.
  • batman on February 10, 2005 at 10:00 AM
    i, being a crime fighter know that fighting cream can be both dangerous and boring. however i are a vigilantee and propose that crime should be stopped by you. therefore be it enacted that hence forth, crime is illegal
  • mike on February 10, 2005 at 12:59 PM
    to the guy who posted at 825:
    being more cautious beats being unwary doesnt it? of course there is no such thing as guaranteed security (for example, the homeland security color code system will never ever go to green) but being more cautious and watching what you do is a hell of a lot better than doing nothing at all
  • - (View Email) on February 12, 2005 at 9:46 PM
    mike, are you TRYING to get thieves to target magnets with your unorthodox, stereotypical comments?
    You're so low in my eyes, so low, that I can't even see you anymore.
    Way to degrade whatever respect most magnets ever had for you.
  • anon on February 12, 2005 at 11:26 PM
    I agree with mike and abdullah.

    if you're carrying nice stuff around or stuff that's important to you, you'd better be careful where you keep it.
  • whee on February 13, 2005 at 1:32 PM
    First: thanks for reporting, varun
    Second: I think that this article needs to have some comments blocked out, or the comments section closed. The personal attacks are going to lead to someone getting hurt and it's not going to be funny.
    Third: "Mike," you have the right idea, but I'd appreciate it if you didn't keep forwarding attention to the victims being magnets. Everyone just needs to be careful, magnet or non magnet.
  • mike on February 14, 2005 at 1:56 PM
    why would someone get hurt? and im not promoting magnets being targets but rather im mentioning that the majority if not all of them ARE the targets...
    seriously it seems like most of you either dont or cant read what im saying
    and to the person who posted at 946...frankly disagreeing with my opinions does not warrant that type of response seeing as how i was neither promoting anything nor being unorthodox...seriously can you read and understand the point of what im saying?
  • como te llamas?! on February 17, 2005 at 6:32 PM
    To "batman", how in the world can ANYONE fight CREAM?! Batman writes, "being a crime fighter know that fighting cream can be both dangerous and boring. however i are a vigilantee and propose that crime should be stopped by you. therefore be it enacted that hence forth, crime is illegal". My advice to you: Leave your imaginations back in elementary school and get back in the present high school world!
  • Diego Ardila on February 21, 2005 at 6:49 PM
    mike-
    you sound like will tao
    why does your name not show up on the people list on BEN?
    if you honestly think that anyone DESERVES to get anything stolen because they are not careful you are wrong. I think what you want to say is that it would not have happened if they were careful.
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