Given Northwestern’s Christian tradition, it might surprise some to know that theft is a significant problem. It also might surprise some that among the most commonly stolen items are signs and nameplates.
Most of the time, the missing signs don’t have much effect on the campus community. Taking signs may seem like an innocent prank, but doing so can cause many problems.
Blake Wieking, Head of Campus Security at NW, acknowledged that professors’ nameplates have been stolen from VPH, as well as individual letters from signs. But what could be the most troublesome example of stealing on campus is the recent disappearance of the EMT signs.
An EMT, short for emergency medical technician, is a certified healthcare provider who is trained to treat and transport the sick and injured. At NW, a few certified EMTs are allotted parking spots that aid them in responding to emergencies quickly. The missing EMT signs were for spots in front of the North Suites.
Nathan Sexe, a junior at NW and a certified EMT, said his sign wasn’t stolen, but Dan Locker and Jordan Sexe’s signs were stolen.
“The parking signs help a lot with improving our response times,” Nathan said. “One minute can make a huge difference in the outcome of some ambulance calls.”
The biggest issue with a missing EMT sign is it makes it more difficult for EMT’s to do their jobs.
“Taking three minutes to run to the parking lot from my dorm could really matter in an emergency,” Nathan said.
Although the stealing of the EMT signs is bad enough, the damaging of the signs and the posts makes these incidences worse.
“The thieves snapped the post off that was in the ground,” Wieking said.
Although the number of thefts is not higher than previous years, the damage is a new development.
“It’s probably the first time they’ve broken signs,” Wieking said. “They normally just pull them out of the ground.”
These items have a cost.
“It’s not just a couple dollars,” Wieking said. “And it’s man hours, you know, for all of that to go back.”
Theft also comes with a punishment.
If someone is caught in the act, they could be reported to the dean of students, John Brogan.
“If students are in buildings after hours taking things, that’s around a $150 fine for being in a building after hours,” Wieking said. “There could be campus discipline, as well.”
Fortunately, according to Wieking, the missing EMT signs were returned anonymously.
As for the other signs, professors’ nameplates have been stolen throughout VPH, and the most recent disappearance has been the women’s bathroom sign on the 3rd floor of VPH.
NW students may not be responsible for all the missing signs.
“It’s hard to tell,” Wieking said. “Students are taking signs from campus buildings, so it could be, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was students from another campus either.”
Wieking said that whoever is going around campus with the intent of taking signs, nameplates and other property should know that their acts aren’t harmless pranks.
“It’s stealing,” Wieking said. “And it takes time and money to replace all that stuff. It’s a little disconcerting that people would think it’s OK to do that.”
“At first, I thought (the sign stealing) was hilarious,” Nathan said. “But then I realized it could cause some serious problems.”