Anybody walking through the high school will notice backpacks, sports equipment and textbooks lying around.
Even after school, many of these things, along with open lockers, are still there.
Country Day is a tight-knit community, and with that comes a strong sense of security on campus.
But what many students don’t realize is how easy it is for a stranger to come onto campus and steal their belongings. The only thing preventing this is the maintenance staff, who can’t be everywhere at all times.
In fact, in just the past year, there have been two incidents of stolen laptops during after-school events.
So to see just how much someone could steal by taking advantage of students’ negligence, I did it myself.
On Thursday, March 9, my trusty sidekick, senior Aidan Cunningham, and I came back to school at 8:30 p.m. and did our best burglar impersonations.
Our first target was the gold mine of the high school: the freshman quad.
From the top of the freshman lockers alone, we snatched five textbooks (one covered in cobwebs), three pairs of shoes and two jackets.
Then we scouted the rest of the high-school quads. To our disappointment there weren’t many items left out there.
So the majority of our haul came from unlocked lockers.
Many students can’t handle the hassle of unlocking their lockers every time they need to access them.
So during the day they either leave them wide open or jam the lock, which bypasses having to enter a combination. And while the maintenance workers close lockers after school, they don’t unjam them.
After about 10 minutes of checking, Aidan and I found 17 unlocked lockers. Score!
Unsurprisingly, eight were in the freshman quad and none were in the senior area.
It took us more than an hour and a half to gather and inventory everything, take pictures and load our haul into the back of my car.
Our stash included textbooks, calculators, clothing and even two tennis rackets.
“It’s so crazy that all this is just left out to be taken,” Aidan said.
“Yeah, I would definitely come here all the time if I were homeless,” I replied as I tried on a fashionable jacket from a sophomore’s locker.
“Hey, that color matches your eyes perfectly!” Aidan said, giggling.
The process of getting everything into the car and keeping it sorted was tedious. And there was so much that I had to fold down the back seat of my car.
Even then it was a tight fit.
During our hour-and-a-half crime spree, the only person who could’ve caught us was a maintenance guy working in the middle school. And he was too busy cleaning to notice us all the way up in the high school.
Keep in mind that actual robbers wouldn’t take so long to go through lockers. They would probably be in and out in less than 10 minutes.
The next morning when I arrived at school, I heard panicked underclassmen stressing about their missing belongings.
“It was pandemonium!” physical education teacher Michelle Myers said.
“I had five students come to me asking frantically if I knew where their stuff was. And all of them were asking where the lost-and-found was, too!”
During first period, I pulled my car around to the blacktop and carted everybody’s belongings into the weight room.
At morning meeting, I revealed our devious scheme and told students where they could collect their possessions.
Much of the crowd was amused by the experiment. And those who lost things were relieved.
Once break ended, students filed into the weight room and were overjoyed to see that they hadn’t actually been robbed. One of those was sophomore Lia Kaufman.
“I was super scared because I really thought my books had been stolen,” Kaufman said.
While there is most likely only a slim chance that someone would come through and steal as much as we did, the potential losses could be colossal.
If all the textbooks I took had been bought used at the school’s summer book sale, they would’ve cost $2,385, let alone if they were new. And that total is just for textbooks. That number doesn’t include the multiple lunchboxes, calculators, and umbrellas that I also found.
But what’s even more worrying is the number of things that might have been stolen if not for the maintenance staff.
Up until this year, custodian Matt Liedtke worked the night shift in the high school.
Two years ago he picked up 126 laptops left out after school.
“Last year I just didn’t bother keeping count again,” Liedtke said. “(The number of laptops left out) has gotten better, but it’s still really bad.”
Liedtke also confirmed that there are people who come after hours looking to steal.
Not only are students being careless when they leave their things out, but also they’re trashing the campus.
“(The freshmen) should be doing a better job (of keeping their quad clean),” dean of student life Patricia Jacobsen said. “One time I had to clean up a moldy apple from the top of their lockers.”
Leaving food out not only harms the campus’s appearance, but it also attracts rodents, Liedtke said.
Even so, some people never learn.
Only two days after the “robbery,” Jacobsen discovered two laptops left out on tables and a red camera in an open locker.
—By Adam Dean