PD: student removed cash from AC lockers over course of semester
5 months ago
Samee AhmadMercury Staff
UTD police arrested a student in the Activity Center on multiple charges of theft on Oct. 12.
Aditya Arolkar, an information technology and management graduate student, was caught on security footage several times since the beginning of the semester taking cash from students’ lockers, according to the police report. Many victims remain unidentified or unknown because the students have not realized they are missing cash, said UTD Police Lieutenant Ken MacKenzie.
Lead UTD investigators Melanie Cleveland and Nashotta Luckett said Arolkar started his streak on Aug. 31. He took advantage of a previous absence of cameras in one particular locker bank and discreetly opened the unlocked lockers to remove cash.
“The problem area that we were having with a lot of thefts was one that didn’t have coverage, and they didn’t turn those cameras on until Oct. 3,” Cleveland said.
Once the investigators identified the area, AC administration installed cameras immediately. MacKenzie said going through the security footage produced instant results.
“What’s funny about this is once the cameras were put in … all of a sudden, you know, not even realizing, there was (a) suspect on it. We see this guy acting weird, and we start watching him,” he said.
Cleveland and MacKenzie also identified the problem as student negligence. Students failed to properly lock their possessions because they did not rotate the knob to the closed position and press the green ‘C.’ Arolkar manipulated this carelessness, they said.
In security footage, Arolkar approaches the locker bank and tries to pull open nearly every locker. He finds two that are open and identifies one that has cash inside. He props up his backpack below himself and slides the money out.
“When you’re watching it, it’s almost unbelievable,” Cleveland said.
Though Arolkar committed these thefts in daylight, no one attempted to stop him, as the video showed.
“People pass by him all the time and nobody notices a thing,” Cleveland said.
Currently, UTD police said Arolkar may have stolen anywhere from $100 to $750, which is a Class B Misdemeanor, for which he was arrested and charged with three related counts of theft. But MacKenzie said the investigation is ongoing and the actual count could be up to $2,000.
“We didn’t have complainants because, you know, these people didn’t realize stuff was missing so we had to identify them and call them and we still got a couple and we’re trying to identify them. And I guarantee you there are going to be other victims out there that we have not yet looked into,” he said.
MacKenzie explained that students did not notice they were missing anything because Arolkar only took cash, and he encouraged anyone who visited the Activity Center and has had cash go missing to contact the police department.
UTD Public Safety Officer David Spigelmyer identified several tips for students to keep their possessions safe around campus.
“When using a university provided locker for the very first time, ask a member of the staff of that department to assist you or show you how to properly lock and unlock the locker,” he said.
In addition to not carrying around excessive amounts of cash or overly expensive items, he also encouraged students to be aware of their surroundings.
“Pay attention to anyone just hanging around who is not doing anything specific. Most folks will want to get into the gym and complete their workout and move on so if you see someone just hanging around the lockers call the UTD police or notify a staff member immediately,” Spigelmyer said.
Tricia Losavio, the director of recreational sports at the Activity Center, maintained the lockers in the Center were safe for student use.
“We believe the hallway lockers are secure, as long as users follow the instructions printed above each bank of lockers,” she said.
If you or someone you know believe that you had cash stolen in the Activity Center, contact Investigator Melanie Cleveland at 972-883-2869 or email her at email@example.com.