Suspect Arrested in LCD Projector Theft

Since October, over 20 projectors worth $150,000 have been stolen

A man who allegedly stole an overhead classroom projector and is the prime suspect in several other projector thefts was arrested Saturday, Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) spokesperson Steven G. Catalano said.

“Since October, we have had over 20 incidents involving thefts of LCD projectors,” Catalano said of the stolen liquid crystal display (LCD) projectors, which are used to show videos, DVDs and slides in high resolution.

“The total amount of stolen property is about $150,000,” he said.

An HUPD detective arrested Clark Caravan, 44, of Somerville, Mass., on three warrants, including one warrant from HUPD for theft of an LCD projector, a warrant from the Northeastern University Police Department and a default warrant from Quincy District Court.

Catalano said that HUPD first identified Caravan as a suspect back in March while investigating one projector theft and then obtained a warrant for his arrest.

On May 1, an HUPD detective spotted Caravan at the intersection of Kirkland and Quincy Streets.

“The detective had dealings with him in the past during the course of other investigations and placed him under arrest,” Catalano said, adding that this is not the first time Caravan has been arrested for theft on Harvard’s campus.

“We have arrested Mr. Caravan three times since 1999 and identified him in other cases as a suspect in thefts,” Catalano said.

Though his prior arrests were for stealing unattended property, this is his first arrest for taking an LCD projector.

“At this time, Mr. Caravan is only being charged with one LCD projector theft,” Catalano said. “But he is the prime suspect in several other LCD projector thefts and all the thefts are still under investigation.”

These ceiling-mounted projectors are valued at $3,000 to $7,500 each, Catalano told The Crimson in December. He added yesterday that the projectors are difficult to steal.

“The majority of these were mounted to ceilings,” Catalano said. “It’s just not a run-of-the-mill theft of an unattended piece of property. Someone needs to know what they’re doing to get it down.”

The recent spike in LCD projector thefts—20 since October—is unusual, Catalano said.

“In the last three years, there were maybe one or two thefts total involving LCD projectors,” he said.

Back on Oct. 14, after three projector thefts in one weekend, Catalano said that HUPD sent out a crime alert to information technology (IT) officials across the campus. The alert informed them of the thefts, encouraging them to lock up projectors and look out for suspicious activity in classrooms.

Catalano said HUPD and IT directors have taken several measures to prevent these thefts since the crime alert such as installing sonic alarms, stronger locks and security screws.

But Catalano said that even after the additional security measures, the number of projector thefts has risen rapidly since October.

“Despite our efforts to prevent these thefts from occurring there was still an increase in thefts of the projectors,” he said.

“There was a time lapse between when the [security] measures were conceived and when they were instituted.”

But Catalano said that because Caravan is suspected of involvement in several other thefts, his arrest might lead to a decline in the number of LCD projector thefts.

—Staff writer Hana R. Alberts can be reached at alberts@fas.harvard.edu.