Police sting deters library thefts

On March 14, Northern Kentucky University police cited and charged a 23-year-old Erlanger man on campus for an attempted theft that occurred during a police sting operation.

Donald C. Beuchel Jr. of Erlanger was charged with theft/larceny, a misdemeanor and detained for questioning by Investigator Rob Yelton in what Chief of Police Harold Todd called “an unusual trend.”

From Jan. 24 to March 18, there have been approximately 24 books stolen from Steely Library.The NKU police noticed the trend and began discussing it about a week before spring break.

The police decided on a sting operation, using officers and cadets in plain clothes to stake out the library. The officers placed unattended book bags and books around the library and kept watch over them.

March 14 was the first day of the sting, and after three hours, Beuchel approached the book bag of a cadet and took three books out of it. When approached by the cadet, Beuchel said that he thought the book bag was his. However, during his interrogation, Beuchel admitted to Yelton that he took the books with the intent to sell them, and wrote a confession.

“I don’t think he was acting alone,” Yelton said. “This guy said he had someone with him. He said his friend had his book bag, but we never found the friend.”

Yelton said this case was difficult for several reasons. One was the proximity-the books were all taken from different places. “They were all taken from the inside of the library, but there was no pattern as to which floor they were taken from; that’s one of the things that made this so difficult,” he said.

But the police aren’t finished yet. They’re going to continue the investigation. “We’ll set up this time in different areas on campus,” Yelton said. They plan on setting up another sting in the library, and doing the same thing in other areas where the thefts have been prevalent.

In spite of the thefts, some students still feel like their belongings are safe. Junior Pre-Elementary Education major Kelly Bennett was unaware of the recent thefts, but said she has left her books out in the library before. “I leave my stuff out, but not to go far,” she said.

Business Administration senior Siris Sapkota tries to be careful about what he leaves lying around. “When I have my textbook and calculator, I never leave that,” he said. Sapkota believes that despite the thefts, the campus is an overall safe place. “There’s a problem, but it’s safe.”

Head of Access Services for Steely Library, Betty Riddell says that students need to keep their belongings on them, no matter how short of a time they plan on stepping away from them. Riddell says that students are “lulled into thinking that it’s okay” to leave their belongings out. “We just don’t have the staff to police the area,” she said. Riddell hopes that if word gets out that the police are watching, that the book thefts will be deterred.

Until then Riddell said she had been thinking about doing something to alert students how easily their belongings could be stolen, such as placing a bright orange card on their belongings when the library staff see them sitting unattended.

Beuchel was contacted by phone and declined to comment.