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Midshipmen suspected in computer thefts


Navy investigators suspect midshipmen have stolen more than $13,000 worth of computer equipment from their Naval Academy classmates in the past month.

Academy sources said yesterday detectives are questioning midshipmen and school staff in the series of thefts from rooms in Bancroft Hall, the dormitory where all 4,000 midshipmen live. Academy officials confirmed the investigation.

"We are investigating this thoroughly and we will not tolerate this," said Capt. Tom Jurkowsky, an academy spokesman. "Midshipmen do no lie, cheat or steal and God help them if they do."

The computer equipment -- keyboards, monitors and central processing units (CPUs) -- began disappearing from rooms Aug. 29, a source close to the investigation said. A total of $13,630 in equipment had been stolen between that date and Monday, the sources said.

The thefts occurred at various times of the day and night, authorities said. Sometimes the thief or thieves has disconnected the CPU, leaving behind the monitor and keyboard, sources said. Other times only the memory card was taken out of the CPU.

Midshipmen, who share rooms with two or three others, are required to leave their doors unlocked for inspection while they attend classes or are on short leaves. Each has a computer on his desk paid for from his monthly salary.

Although midshipmen are provided with lockers, they often do not lock valuables in them, said Karen Myers, an academy spokeswoman.

She said the latest incidents, together with reports last year of more than $70,000 in personal property stolen from Bancroft Hall, have prompted Navy officials to consider changing the locks on the doors of all the rooms in the building.

While each dormitory room door can be locked, all 1,800 can be unlocked with the same key. A new lock system would include different locks for all the doors with one master key that officers could use to get into the rooms for inspections, Ms. Myers said.

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