The apparent theft of a set of master keys to the University’s residence halls, and other campus facilities, has led to a security breach that has so far cost the University $7,000, and will ultimately cost much more.
Last Friday afternoon Facilities Management staff members noticed that a set of sub-master keys was missing from their department office.
At 9:30 a.m. on Monday, Maintenance Operations Center Supervisor Jack Ward filed a police report with the La Verne Police Department. The incident was cited as a theft, and an investigation was opened, although there were no updates as of Wednesday night, according to La Verne Police.
The keys, used by Facilities personnel to perform routine maintenance to the campus, opened locks for almost every building at the University.
Clive Houston-Brown, associate vice president of facilities and technology services, would not confirm Thursday which additional buildings are affected, saying he did not want the potential thief to know which buildings they had access to.
Facilities staff is unaware of when the keys went missing, Houston-Brown said.
He added that the keys could have been lost at any time during the week before Friday’s discovery.
“The keys are kept in a very secure area,” Houston-Brown said. “There is a locked drawer with a combination, a front lock and a locked cage that is in a building in Facilities. The issue is that during the day, the building and fenced cage are unlocked.”
Because of this breach in security, Facilities worked through the weekend to replace all locks in the Brandt, Stu-Han and Oaks residence halls and issue new keys to all residents.
In the dorms, “we made sure we communicated with all residents,” Eugene Shang, assistant housing director, said. “The resident assistants came in on the weekend to make sure everyone could get their keys.”
Some residents, however, felt that they were not appropriately informed about the security breach, and instead were only notified about new keys, as if it were a routine practice.
“I was upset about that,” said Brandon Flath, a freshman biology major and Oaks C-top resident. “We confronted housing after we found out, and they acted like we shouldn’t have known,”
“The appearance is that it was a robbery,” Houston-Brown said.
By Tuesday all affected dormitory locks had been replaced, and students had been issued new keys. The Oaks locks were replaced first because keys are used to open both the main building door and the room doors, while Stu-Han and Brandt residents use key cards to get into the main facility.
“The day it happened, we should have gotten keys,” said Sasha Jones, freshman political science major and Oaks C-top resident. “I felt unsafe because people could get into the dorm and into my room.”
The Facilities department is currently working systematically to replace each lock on campus that was affected by the suspected theft, though Houston-Brown said he didn’t know when the work would be completed. The cost so far has been around $7,000 and has been covered by Facilities Management.
“We are hitting the high impact areas first, including computer labs and all external doors,” Houston-Brown said.
Facilities staff members worked 12-hour to 14-hour days over the weekend to provide security to the residence halls.
There is no indication that the stolen keys have been used yet, Houston-Brown said Wednesday.
Houston-Brown plans on having cameras installed where the keys are kept with other security measures for that area.
“For now, there’s nothing to do besides what people normally do, which is lock their doors before they leave,” Houston-Brown said. “But someone could get in.”
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