A typical eat-and-study session at Wooster Hall ended with a mysterious theft for second-year marketing major and SUNY New Paltz student Edyta Sikora.
On Monday evening, Jan. 28, Sikora sat at a window booth in Element 93, munching on a salad and chipping away at some schoolwork. After packing up her laptop, Sikora left her belongings at the booth to retrieve a to-go bag from the Tapingo pick-up area.
“I was gone for not even a minute, and I got back to my booth and realized my bag was gone,” Sikora recalled. “I looked around and it was no where to be found.”
Sikora reported her missing backpack and laptop to an Element 93 employee, and the employee immediately called university police.
Before the university police’s arrival, Sikora utilized Find My iPhone App—an application that locates iOS devices—to track down her laptop, and discovered her laptop was located in the Sojourner Truth Library.
“Being confused and so worried, I sprinted to the library and searched all three floors of the library,” Sikora said.
On the brink of giving up, Sikora then noticed her backpack sitting behind one of the computers near the entrance of the library. According to Sikora, nothing from her backpack was missing.
“I honestly think she just wanted money, so she realized I didn’t have my wallet in my bag or anything so she just put it back,” Sikora sadi. “Or she could have heard my alarm on my laptop go off from the tracking app, got scared and left it.”
Approximately 45 minutes after Sikora realized her backpack was missing, Officer Steve Shadick reported to the campus library.
Even though surveillance footage revealed a woman leaving Wooster Hall with Sikora’s backpack at 6:19 p.m., and entering Sojourner Truth Library with it at 6:23 p.m., police are unable to identify the woman responsible for the theft.
According to Campus Safety magazine’s 2016 Video Surveillance Survey, more than nine out of 10 schools and universities deploy security cameras on their campuses. More than four out of five respondents rate image quality and reliability as extremely important.
For universities, on a scale from one to five, theft ranks as the most prevalent problem (3.4), followed closely by “crime from the community coming onto campus” and “incidents during the evening or after hours” (both receiving a 3.2 average score from respondents).
According to the SUNY New Paltz Police Department’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, from 2015 to 2017 only one robbery was reported back in 2015.
Sikora has not checked in with university police since the incident, but they told Sikora “if they find her they’ll let me know.” Sikora intends to press charges, but because the woman cannot be identified, no charges can currently be filed.
Officer Steve Shadick could not be reached in time to discuss details of the investigation.
“Due to this incident still being under investigation, we aren’t able to disclose any information at this time,” said SUNY New Paltz Chief of Police Mary Ritayik.
“We are, however, working on positively identifying the individual and hope to make an arrest in the near future. Due to the length of time it has taken us to identify the person, we are thinking, most likely it is not a current student.”