NAC thefts eyed

After receiving reports of missing hockey equipment, sneakers, and money in the past few months, the athletics staff has implemented restrictions on free skate and enforced its locker room policies.

From mid-October to early January, students reported three incidents of stolen sneakers and cash that each occurred in the boys’ locker rooms, Interim Athletic Director Chuck Richard said, adding that missing goods are not uncommon during the school year, but missing money is more troubling.

“Money is something that’s a little more invasive. It’s usually in a pocket [or] in someone’s wallet that’s in a pair of pants hanging in the locker,” he said. “It’s more than grabbing a pair of sneakers and walking out [of] the locker room.”

During exam week in December, students also reported multiple cases of missing hockey equipment, only to have it reappear a few days later. The athletics staff found that Upper School (US) students who did not play hockey were borrowing skates and helmets from Middle School hockey bags to skate in the afternoons after exams, Athletic Associate and Girls’ Varsity Hockey Assistant Coach Kathy Newell said.

Mr. Richard reported each incident to Manager of Security and Transportation Kathleen Murphy and to Dean of Students Rory Morton before meeting with his staff to discuss how to regulate the issue.

“We [want] to make sure we have more of a presence in the locker room,” Mr. Richard said. “Obviously, we don’t have cameras in the locker rooms, and there could be 40 kids coming in and out [of the rooms], so it’s really difficult to pinpoint  specifically what happened or when.”

Ms. Newell said the staff decided in December to prohibit students and faculty members from using the rink during the winter when no games or practices were scheduled.

“The fact that the students felt they could just take anything they wanted was pretty much why we shut the rink down,” she said.

The rink reopened on January 18, but the athletic department did not reinstate free skate fully. Only students who have their own equipment and play on a school hockey team are permitted to skate during free time between practices and games, and varsity locker rooms are off limits to any non-varsity player. Additionally, the new set of rules also dictates that students must wear helmets and long sleeves at all times.

Assistant Director of Athletics Greg Pugh emailed the community in January to encourage students to review and abide by the locker room policies, specifically referring to the sections about not stealing or defacing other students’ property and locking away any personal possessions.

Ms. Murphy said she thought the athletic department’s shift from attached locks on lockers to padlocks last year contributed to the problem.

“Students don’t use their locks at all—if you leave something unlocked and someone sees it, all they have to do is open up the locker,” she said. “But if you use the [padlock], they have to actually break the lock, and we have not had any break-ins.”

Moving forward, Ms. Murphy hopes students will be more mindful about taking proper care of their possessions.

“Opportunity is what’s happening here,” she said. “The thefts are a problem, but we’re fortunate that they are so rare with the amount of things students leave lying around. Even though BB&N is a close community, we all need to be more attuned to safeguarding.”

“Usually it’s just our students in these facilities so it’s probably someone’s classmate going in and doing this,” Mr. Richard said. “I think it’s a little more deliberate and personal, so that’s why the [thefts] are frustrating for us to see at this school.”

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