Dining hall cameras aim to reduce theft
Published: Friday, March 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013 00:03
The Miami University markets and dining halls boast a selection of snacks, drinks, and miscellaneous items. However, one feature that many students may be unaware of is the inclusion of video cameras.
Those cameras serve multiple purposes, the foremost of which concerns student theft and shoplifting.
The cameras are also used to ensure staff safety, as a research tool to aid in renovations and to track staffing movements during stocking for inventory purposes.
According to Marijo Nootz, senior director of Shriver Center, the first camera was installed in Tuffy’s about 10 years ago after theft started occurring at night, as Tuffy’s was then open 24-hours a day, causing concern for the safety of the staff.
“Since then, it has been our policy to put cameras on locations where there’s a lot of traffic and, or where there’s a lot of money being taken in,” Nootz said. “And that’s really for the safety of our staff.”
Ryan, a Miami student who wished to remain anonymous for fear of legal action, was unaware that Miami places video cameras in markets.
“I had no idea there were cameras [in the markets],” Ryan said. “In some [markets] you can check yourself out and after accidentally taking an item without paying one time, it made it tempting to do that again.”
Student theft in the dining halls and markets doesn’t seem to be a frequent occurrence, according to Chris Pirigyi, executive manager of Haines Food Court, Tuffy’s and Spring Street Market.
“I wouldn’t say [it happens] a lot, but it does happen,” Pirigyi said. “Most students come to the market and already have money on them. That’s probably usually the problem out there, [that] people don’t have money when they’re stealing. I feel like the kids here have money on their card and most of the time, they are honest and they do just come in, purchase their groceries and leave.”
According to Pirigyi, theft anywhere on campus is something that can drive up prices for students. Nootz agreed.
“We look at our food costs and we look at the revenue, and depending on those, then that’s how we set our prices,” Nootz said. “If the food cost is more because there’s things walking out without being paid for, then it’s going to raise the prices.”
The cameras placed in the dining halls and markets are intended to be a deterrent to student theft, in addition to identifying those accused of theft.
“A lot of times it’s not the cameras that catch them, they just confirm it,” Nootz said. “It’s our staff who are suspicious.”
In addition to theft at the dining halls and markets, it also occurs in the bookstore.
According to Nootz, the smaller items that students can fit in their pockets are the most tempting to shoplift.
Once a student is caught stealing, the Miami University Police Department (MUPD) is contacted. According to Chief John McCandless of the MUPD, if an officer is called to a shoplifting or theft case and have enough evidence for a student to be found guilty after the accused and witness have been questioned, the officer will issue a misdemeanor citation for theft, and the student will have to appear in court.
Videos documenting the theft can be used as evidence and often restitution can be agreed upon between the shoplifter and the victim once the case gets to court and is usually handled through the prosecutors, defense attorney and court McCandless said.
“The information is also forwarded to Judicial Affairs, so there would be sanctions there also,” McCandless said. “From that point, it’s up to the courts as far as what the end consequence is. Presumably you’d have to retain an attorney, so it’s a pretty expensive undertaking; something you’d want to think twice about before doing.”