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Officers from the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) arrested a guard from Allied Security on Friday after she revealed her involvement in a series of 13 thefts over the past five months. In an interview with HUPD officers during their investigation last week,
Toya Parkman confessed to the thefts—which started in late November 2004 and occurred at the Graduate School of Design’s (GSD) Gund Hall, the building where Parkman worked.
She also revealed the involvement of Quincy Freeman, an acquaintance of hers. The two of them face multiple counts of larceny by scheme and a conspiracy charge.
According to HUPD spokesman Steven G. Catalano, Parkman, a 23-year-old from Mattapan, Mass., described to officers how she and Freeman systematically stole laptops, digital cameras, hard drives, palm pilots, and other electronic items from both locked and unlocked rooms and offices in Gund Hall.
Catalano confirmed that the value of items Parkman and Freeman, a 22-year-old also from Mattapan, stole amounts to roughly $22,000.
“Property crime is a big concern for us. Ninety-five percent of our crime is property crime,” said Catalano.
“We feel that the vast majority of crimes are committed by people not affiliated with the university who come here and either piggy-back into buildings or go into unlocked rooms, but a small portion of these crimes are committed by members of the Harvard community,” he added.
Catalano also confirmed that officers recovered three laptops during a search of Freeman’s residence. He could not confirm what happened to the remainder of the items stolen. HUPD’s investigation is still ongoing.
Chris White, president of the GSD Student Forum, said that students are generally concerned about the issue of security at Gund Hall. Currently the building only has a security guard on duty from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. At all other times, a student keeps watch near the two entrances in the front of the building.
But students thus far have been opposed to using security swipe cards like those in place at the College.
“The students we approached about this have, for the most part, preferred the idea that students should secure their own belongings rather than installing some kind of swipe card system at the building’s entry points,” White said.
Gund Hall’s security is overseen by the GSD rather than HUPD.
“We are working with the Graduate School of Design’s administration to help them make their buildings more secure,” said Catalano. “We work in coordination and partnership with the school, but we can’t mandate any security measures.”
Catalano also emphasized that theft at Harvard has occurred at all levels, and cautioned against distrusting members of Allied Security on the basis of the incident.
“Over the years, students, maintenance workers, custodians, and security guards have stolen from members of the community. Regardless of who is doing the stealing, we want to do what we can to prevent it from occurring and stop it once its ongoing,” said Catalano. “It concerns us that a person who is responsible for protecting the property of the University is then implicated in this crime.”
—Crimson staff writer Eduardo E. Santacana can be reached at email@example.com
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