Cell Phone Theft Spikes

Cell Phone Theft Spikes

Ellie Furr, Staff writer

A new administration at Chamblee Charter High School means new policies, and one policy that students have particularly enjoyed this year is the more lenient attitude towards cell phones. But with this current attitude comes consequences.

“With the new cell phone policy that lets the kids use their phones anywhere and everywhere, the kids are getting comfortable with having their cell phones out, and are even putting it out and leaving it somewhere,” said school resource officer, Johnny Burnette. “But when they come back to get it, it’s gone.”

To the dismay of campus security, cell phone theft has become an increasing problem at Chamblee. According to Officer Burnette, around 30 missing or stolen cell phones have been reported in the last two months alone.

Junior Ivy Catherine Rogers’s phone was stolen on August 29th. She had placed her belongings down just inside of the girl’s restroom and tucked her phone under a book and her pencil pouch, thinking no one would see it. But when she emerged, her phone was gone.

“My final assumption was that someone watched me put all of my stuff down and then while I was in the stall, they searched through it all and grabbed my phone,” said Rogers.

Rogers’s initial thought, however, was that she had somehow lost it, so she retraced her steps, but found no evidence of her phone.

“At first, I was really scared and nervous, but once I came to the conclusion that someone had definitely stolen it, that’s when I actually became really angry,” said Rogers.

Not only is a phone expensive to replace, but it also carries hundreds of photos and other documents that have sentimental value.

“I had so many pictures and videos on there that I’ll never get back, and I just started wondering ‘why would someone do this?’ and that just made me really upset,” said Rogers.

The phone of freshman Kai Neuhaus has also been stolen this year.

Neuhaus was on his way to health class and decided to put his phone in the side pocket of his lunchbox. He then left his phone and the rest of his belongings to go work on a project. But when he returned, his phone was gone.

“Someone had taken my phone out of its case and then put only the case back in my lunchbox pocket, and was trying to sell the phone,” said Neuhaus.

Fortunately for him, Coach Uzoh, his teacher, was able to coerce the thief to return the phone by speaking to the class as a whole.

Many other students dealt with situations similar to those of Rogers and Neuhaus. Some, like Neuhaus, luckily, got their phones back, with considerable struggle. Burnette is able to access the security cameras and is sometimes able to track down the cell phone thief.

But in other cases, like Rogers’s, the thief is not discovered.

“Officer Burnette tried to check the security cameras to see who was coming in and out of the bathroom at around the time my phone was stolen, but they camera they needed wasn’t coming up,” said Rogers. “They said they’d keep looking, but I haven’t heard anything, so I’ve just been using my old phone in the meantime.”

Out of the approximately 30 reported stolen phones, only around six phones have been safely returned to their owners.

The primary goal of the administration in combatting cell phone theft is to inform students and faculty about the dangers of leaving your phone unattended.

“I think people are too complacent and careless in regards to their personal property,” said Campus Supervisor Ronald Brown. “The assumption is that people aren’t going to steal, and that if someone comes across the cell phone, that they’ll turn it in, but that’s not the case.”

The administration can only do so much to advise the student body. In the end it is up to the students to take care of their property.  

“The individual has to take personal responsibility for their own items, and that personal responsibility extends to their cell phone,” said Brown.

In many cases, upon hearing that their child’s phone has been stolen, parents immediately buy their child a new phone, disregarding the lesson that needs to be learned by the student.

“It’s not all the kids’ fault,” said Burnette. “Parents can instill a sense of responsibility in them, and hopefully they are all trying to do so, but that doesn’t always happen.”

Ultimately, the naivety of Chamblee students is the primary cause of the increased cell phone theft. When the students and staff learn that there is a very real threat, only then can the number of thefts decrease.

“Everybody steals everywhere in the world,” said Burnette. “It doesn’t matter what school you’re at. It could be at the best school, or it could be at the worst school. It still happens.”