Theft Shocks El Vaquero Staff

Jamie Littlefield

El Vaquero photographers are operating with limited resources after cameras and lenses were stolen from the newspaper office during the winter break.

El Vaquero Editor-in-Chief Iain Morton locked his office door prior to leaving for a conference on Jan. 3. When he returned on Jan. 10, he immediately noticed items missing from his shelves. The stolen items included an Olympus digital camera, a Canon SLR camera, and two camera lenses – all worth approximately $1,400. Morton reported that upon his return, the office door was locked and there was no sign of forced entry.

Campus police arrived at the scene and made a report, classifying the incident as grand theft. No arrests have been made and there are no suspects at this time.

According to Police Specialist Nidal Kobaissi, thefts of this magnitude are an uncommon occurrence on the college campus. “Petty thefts are the majority of crime,” he said.

It is considered unlikely that the stolen equipment will be retrieved, particularly because most of the stolen materials were not tagged. “Items not tagged and numbered make it easier for people to just walk away with [them],” said Kobaissi.

Only two individuals on the newspaper staff had keys to the office, Morton, and Michael Moreau, the newspaper faculty adviser. The college custodial staff also had keys.

It is still unknown how the equipment will be replaced. “We really can’t afford to replace it,” said Moreau, who owned the SLR and loaned it to the paper. “It’s a big loss for us.” Moreau said he didn’t know where money to replace the equipment would come from, but that he hoped the school would help compensate for the loss.

In the meantime, the El Vaquero staff is taking extra precautions. The locks on the doors have been changed, and the custodial staff was not issued a key. The staff hopes that the new locks will discourage theft in the future.

All this comes at a time when the newspaper is in the process of tackling increased production goals for the new semester, including producing more pages with more stories and photos. “We have so much going on,” said Morton. “We can’t afford to backtrack and buy equipment we’ve already bought.”<