Package larceny from residential halls, one of the most common crimes at Virginia Tech, is an ongoing issue that has continued to affect students on campus during the fall 2019 semester.
“Larceny is the most common property crime on campus,” said Mac Babb, chief of police and director of security for the Virginia Tech Police Department (VTPD). “This response is strictly by numbers and does not take into account the severity or victim impact. Underage possession of alcohol and intoxicated in public charges are the most common violations on campus.”
VTPD issued a crime alert Oct. 31 stating a suspect had been identified for the recent larceny theft and was being cooperative.
Peter James Stauffer, a Virginia Tech student from Williamsburg, Virginia, has been indicted on eight charges of petty larceny and is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18 at 8:30 a.m. He has been released on bond, according to Babb.
Babb said Stauffer is being agreeable and that the investigation is moving in the correct direction; however, he is unsure of the indictment’s magnitude in comparison to the vast sum of larcenies this semester.
“There’s still the potential that someone else is doing this,” Babb said. “That’s the kind of cautionary tale — we want to let people know there’s been progress. We want to let people know that there has been an arrest, but we also don’t want people to become complacent again and say, ‘Oh good, there’s been an arrest. We no longer have to worry about this.’”
According to Babb, there were 153 reports of larceny in the 2018 calendar year, and 24 packages have been reported stolen since Aug. 20. Additionally, VTPD said there are more unknown victims of package theft and stated they are seeking information to locate them.
While larceny is a community and university issue, it is also a personal one. Anna Park, a Virginia Tech senior studying philosophy, politics and economics, had one of her packages stolen last year while living in West Ambler Johnston Hall.
“I had two packages that were supposed to be delivered that day,” Park said. “I was bringing in the packages, and it wasn’t until I was inside my room that I noticed that my smaller package, the textbook — the package had been opened and it was empty.”
Convenience factor plays a crucial role in the recent increase of package larcenies, Babb said. Deliveries from Amazon typically arrive at the customer’s door, while packages from USPS go through residential mail services in Owens Hall.
“If you (order from Amazon), maybe mark down a preference to have it dropped off at mail services instead,” Park said. “Even if it’s a hassle to go to Owens, it means you’ll get your package and it won’t get stolen.”
Residential mail services declined to comment on issues related to package larceny, but Krista Blankenship, senior supervisor at Owen’s mailroom, implied higher-ups in Virginia Tech administration were discussing future changes.
VTPD sent out crime alerts Sept. 30 and Oct. 10, both relating to package larcenies. They offered tips on how to reduce the likelihood of theft and encouraged readers to call VTPD and report suspicious activity.
Babb said VTPD has not noticed a decrease in package theft after releasing its delivery safety tips.
To report any crimes or suspicious activity, call VTPD at 540-382-4343, or dial 911 for an emergency.