University Police have assigned three plain clothesmen to patrol the Harkness Commons at night, in the wake of stealing from this area, Chief of University Police Matthew Toohy reported yesterday.
This measure follows a string of minor robberies occurring around the University in the past week.
Three bikes were stolen from the Bicycle Exchange Monday. The same night a young man was caught lifting valuables from a car behind Winthrop House. A week ago two youths slugged and robbed a Winthrop junior of $6.
Chief Toohy suspects an organized gang of perpetrating the Harkness thefts. "They hang around the area, and when our policemen go past, they duck into rooms and swipe stuff," he said.
Three 20-year-old youths are also under suspicion for the thefts, but local police have not found any factual evidence against them and can make no arrests without such proof. Two were recently released from prison.
He urged all students to lock their rooms at night and to report "any and all unsavory characters" soliciting for magazines or selling goods in House entries.
Toohy explained that minor stealing never stopped in the Cambridge area, though none has been reported from the Houses so far this fall. Last spring three large robberies occurred in the Business School.
Organized Gang Sought
The Harkness robberies, which occurred four days ago, saw a group of boys rifle the student-operated newsstand of 30 cartons of cigarettes and a number of magazines. None have been caught so far.
Except for the plainclothesmen Toohy does not plan any changes in his force or their routine besides assigning extra men to cover the Houses during football weekends, which has always been a department procedure.