Exit signs. Traffic cones. Street signs. Tables. Silverware. These are just some of the many things that are constantly stolen throughout Ithaca College’s campus by students. Connor* is one of the people who has been stealing things from the college and has been doing so ever since his freshman year.
“I took a bike, but it was more of a prank,” Connor said. “The bike was completely abandoned and broken, which is why I took it up. I see so many bikes in the city that people just leave chained, and trees have overgrown, so I thought, ‘Why not make someone’s day and have them wake up to a bike in the shower?’”
Connor also said he’s stolen exit signs and hung them in his room, as well as a table from the Campus Center that he uses to play beer pong. He said he feels like it’s his obligation to take things from the college.
However, Connor said he draws the line when it comes to stealing things from individuals or local businesses, such as Collegetown Bagels or Rogan’s Corner. He said he believes the amount of tuition that the college charges for students makes him feel he needs to take advantage of all the utilities it has.
“I see greed in Ithaca College,” Connor said. “Once they expand the school, it’ll have more people and more space, but right now, they’re over-enrolling, and it’s making things uncomfortable for students currently attending. So, basically, I don’t feel like I’m getting my money’s worth out of the college.”
John* has stolen things such as dining utensils, plates, food from SubConnection, and a toilet. He said he feels obligated to steal small things since he’s charged so much by the school, but when it came to stealing the toilet, it was due to the excessive use of substances and drugs as well as the thrill.
“When you think about stuff you steal, you think of street signs and dining utensils,” John said. “It’s the originality of the object that makes it thrilling.”
Senior Samantha Guter, who has been a resident assistant for three years, said she’s seen this mindset in many people who have stolen things throughout the years. For small things such as dining hall utensils, the punishment is small, such as getting written up, but if the student is caught stealing campus or City of Ithaca property, there could be legal action taken. Stealing from the City of Ithaca is considered illegal and goes beyond the RA’s control. Rather, police are forced to get involved and deal with the legality of the crime.
“People don’t understand that stealing things like that puts more work for the people on the ground and isn’t ‘sticking it to the man,’ which is what their real goal is,” Guter said. “It’s making more work for facility workers, the res life, and it makes a worse community.”
One example she referred to was when a multitude of exit signs were stolen from Emerson Hall last semester. She said it got to the point where so many were stolen that cameras were installed and RAs had to be on the constant lookout for people stealing signs.
“Our facility workers were constantly working, and RAs were always on the lookout for people who stole them,” Guter said. “So I’m sure people thought it was funny, but it wasn’t after a while because we have to have them legally hanging there in order for the buildings to be occupied.”
When it comes to stealing campus property, such as the exit signs, Guter said, the resident would be reported in judicial action. Then a resident director would meet with them to further discuss the punishments regarding the incident.
Tom Dunn, sergeant in the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management, said burglaries are reported about one to two times a week. If the burglar is caught, the punishment depends on the value of the item that was stolen.
“There’s two avenues one can take when it comes to stealing things,” Dunn said. “One would be a criminal arrest at Ithaca court. If it’s under $250, it’s a misdemeanor, but over that amount of money is a felony. If it’s a student that’s been stolen from, they may want to do a judicial sanction against the student.”
Regardless of the consequences, Connor said, he feels that there is no risk and that the thrill is part of the fun of stealing from the college.
“I feel like looking back, I may be like, ‘Wow, that was stupid.’ But even farther into the future, I know I’ll look back on it and laugh,” Connor said.
*Names have been changed to protect anonymity.