Eighteen Harvard students have been apprehended by the Coop for shop-lifting, Dean Watson said last night. "This is much much higher than one year ago this time," said James T. Morrill, Coop General Manager. In October and November, Coop authorities have apprehended a total of 51 persons who have confessed to shop-lifting.
The Coop has suffered an inventory loss of more than one-third of a million dollars during the last academic year, an increase of 44 per cent over the previous year. Sales personnel and administrators yesterday indicated that the primary cause of the large shortage was a sharp increase in shop-lifting by employees and shoppers.
The Administrative Board has so far considered 16 of the cases, Dean Watson said last night. Two students apprehended Monday will have their cases reviewed next week.
Of the 4 others, three were required to withdraw for at least one year, two were sent to University psychiatrists, and the rest were placed on probation, most for the remainder of the academic year. Two of the three suspended students have since been drafted, according to Dean Watson.
Coop authorities generally do not inform Cambridge police about students from Harvard, Radcliffe, or M.I.T. caught shop-lifting. "These students receive preferential treatment from the Coop," Watson said. "The Coop feels that Harvard students are not criminals and we agree. They do not deserve prison sentences. Most of them do not understand the seriousness of the stealing."
"We don't want to give it to the courts because they are not set up to give a punishment that fits the crime," Watson said. "Of course there are a few members of the Ad Board and the Faculty who feel this is wrong."
"Dean Watson claims that Harvard men know not to steal when they come here," Morrill said. "He says that Harvard is filled with perfect gentlemen." "I think he's presuming a bit; everybody has the propensity to steal, and Harvard has its share of crooks who should be dealt with."
"Shop-lifting has been a major problem ever since the Coop opened," said David D. Duval, manager of the Coop's men's furnishings department. "Our security just is not built up as it should be. We can't touch a person unless two employees see the theft. This just isn't right. We need more prosecutions."
"If I put my pen down, it would be gone when I turned my back. The stealing's gone up incredibly this year," a stationery saleswoman said.
One department manager claimed to have caught at least eight students a day. What we need isn't more detectives but higher morality."
"Two years ago, when I was in high school, we used to rob this place blind," a stock boy said. "And they still do. If you walk into the store and act like you own something, it's yours."
"There's been a tremendous increase this year," a floor manager said," and it's caused an astronomical loss. A few weeks ago, we caught an M.I.T. student leaving with $85 of stolen paperbacks."
The Coop's administrators said they did not plan to increase their security arrangements. "We'll wait until next June's inventory to make sure this wasn't a fluke," said Morrill.