Thieves boost $20K in equipment

Recent break-ins targeted classroom projectors in Kuhn Hall, Plaster Hall and the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

The short-lived string of thefts started Feb. 20, but all the stolen projectors were back on campus by Feb. 27.

“We have recovered all of the property and have a suspect in the case,” said Ken Kennedy, director of the department of public safety.

Kennedy spent Feb. 27 working for the Joplin Police department to solve the case.

“As far as this theft we have that pretty well wrapped up,” Kennedy said.

As of press time, no charges had been filed, but Kennedy anticipates charges will follow shortly.

The thefts began Feb. 20 when a secretary discovered projectors missing from Kuhn Hall. The building had been locked after evening classes, and the projectors had been in place for those classes. Melissa Blankenship, nursing department secretary, reported seeing an individual with a duffle bag standing outside one of the classrooms the evening before the projectors went missing.

The classroom doors were locked when Jim Gray, professor of business, arrived at Plaster Hall on Feb. 22. Two projectors were missing from the first floor and upon closer inspection, security officers determined two subwoofers were also gone from their computer docks.

Security officers searched the first and second floors of Plaster discovering cut locks and footprints. Campus had closed early the day before and the building was locked at noon.

The last theft of three projectors happened just after 1 p.m. on Feb. 25. A noon class had met in one of the classrooms and used the projector, but by 1:45 p.m. the projector was missing. Joplin police department responded to all of the thefts, but this time they were able to recover fingerprints.

After their recovery, the projectors were processed as evidence, photographed and returned their classrooms at Southern by the end of the day.

Kennedy said the department of public safety had received several helpful tips. Although he believes the current problem has been solved, he urges professors to be vigilant locking classrooms and to securing equipment with cables or brackets. Some of these thefts were during the day.

“If you see somebody with a duffle bag and it does not look right,” Kennedy said. “It does not hurt to call DPS, don’t just let things go.”

Editor’s note: Kennedy has a guest column in this edition of The Chart. For his take on campus parking, please see page 4.