Why Are So Many Thefts Occurring in Tech’s Locker Rooms?

By Sally Hu

As the late bell rings, students rush to close locker doors and click Master locks shut, spinning the dial one final time as a precaution. However, not all students take the time to do this. Instead, many employ a technique known among students as “catching.”

Students will input their combination as they normally do, but rather than spinning the lock towards the left so it will open, they stop the dial so that it catches on the last number. Many students “catch” their locks to save time, assuming that their fellow students will not bother stealing their belongings or that no one would realize the lock was caught.

Maureen O’Hara, the Assistant Principal of Physical Education, Health, and Safety, firmly disapproves of such naïveté and vehemently argued that “[Students] think that no one is going to see them [catching their locks] but eventually someone is going to see and take their belongings.”

Tiffany Liao ’13, however, disagreed with O’Hara, “I know we’re a large school… We don’t know everyone but we’re all moral human beings, aren’t we?”

After she changes into her gym uniform, Liao doubles back to the lock to “catch” it. By “catching” her lock, Liao can immediately pop the lock open upon her return from class.
“Gym teachers – at least the teachers I’ve had – rarely give us enough time to get from, say, the basement to the third floor locker rooms,” Liao said. “I’m forced to leave my lock caught so I can save as much time as possible.”

Although Liao leaves herself vulnerable, she has yet to meet the misfortune of stolen belongings. “There are definitely bad people out there, but at Tech, we can trust each other to have better judgment than that. I believe that I can leave my stuff without worrying about petty thieves. I’ve been doing this for almost four years. Nothing’s happened yet.”

Where there are the carefree, there are also cautious students. Fanny Chan ’13 knows the risks of leaving her lock caught and exposed to thieves.

“We may feel a sense of security because we’re all on the same boat here – we’re all students. But there are people who will do anything for something they want. People say ‘I catch my lock and no one has stolen my stuff’ but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Eventually someone can find your caught lock and take your iPhone 5.”

Although “lock catching” is not the only cause of theft, it is one of the main keys to locker room robbery. The boys’ locker room previously had a broken door that allowed thieves to slip into the locker room during classes. Now that the door has been fixed, theft has substantially decreased. However, because many students still leave their locks “caught,” students in the same gym period will sometimes wait for the owner of the caught lock to leave before pouncing.

With the rise of thefts due to “lock catching,” O’Hara has instructed physical education teachers to remind students to spin locks – some teachers even go into the locker rooms (after students have left) to make sure locks have been securely shut.

As students enter the locker rooms, the teacher on duty repeatedly reminds them to spin their locks. They do their best to make sure their message carries across – don’t leave your locks caught or your belongings can disappear. But, it’s up to the students to decide whether or not they should heed such advice.

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