Apr 052007
Authors: James Baetke
UNLOCKED: Collegian reporters investigate the building security on campus

CU-Boulder deals with same theft concerns

More than two months after a Collegian investigation found dozens of campus building doors unlocked after midnight, CSU officials said security measures have been stepped up.

Staffers working the early-morning shift for Facilities Management – the department that manages and keys the 100-plus campus buildings – open all buildings at 5 a.m. and are now logging all unlocked doors they encounter.

“Clearly, the message that ultimate responsibility of building security lies with each individual entering or exiting rooms and buildings on campus after hours has made an impact,” said Dell Rae Moellenberg, a CSU spokeswoman.

Over the course of a four-night investigation in January, reporters infiltrated several campus buildings past midnight and ultimately had access to tens of thousands of dollars worth of electronics equipment, in addition to personnel files and semi-dangerous chemicals.

Daily reporting of unlocked doors is a new measure and each account is now passed to respective building proctors – designated people in charge of locking doors and tracking keys – to better monitor security breaches, Moellenberg said.

“Facilities janitorial staff are more carefully checking doors and reporting back on doors that are not locked,” said Chris Rithner, proctor for the Chemistry Building.

In theory, proctors are required to pass unlocked doors to building occupants, in part to help curb theft and to insure safety. The director of Facilities Management, Brian Chase, has acknowledged the breakdown in the proctor system, but said he has pledged to help keep doors more secure.

“On a university campus people tend to have the attitude that security isn’t a huge issue,” Chase said last week.

About $300,000 in campus goods is stolen each year, costing individual departments, students and taxpayers. Depending on the coverage, some stolen property is covered by insurance to about $275,000 since 2001, but items under $1,000 typically are considered a loss.

According to documents from the Office of the Vice President for Administrative Services, CSU paid about $60,000 in insurance deductibles since 2001. Most of those thefts were stolen equipment, such as computers, cameras and audio/visual material.

Moellenberg said the CSU Police Department has stepped up additional random door checks by patrol officers and the department has received an increasing number of calls from employees reporting unsecured areas as well as individuals acting suspiciously.

Rithner said Chemistry Building staff members have been more prone to report unidentified visitors, especially after hours. Further, staff members have been “diligent” about locking doors behind them.

Chase said additional cardkey systems, which allow an authorized key holder to swipe a card to enter a building or room, will be phased in on several university buildings between now and November. The systems have been installed recently in six locations, including Rockwell Hall. The average cost for each system is more than $16,000.

City Editor James Baetke can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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