Caution, vigilance urged after campus thefts


Due to recent thefts on campus, campus security is encouraging students to be extra vigilant when it comes to keeping valuables in a safe place and making sure to lock cars and residence areas.

The first theft occurred around 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 30 in Christ the King Chapel, according to campus security. An unidentified man was seen on a security camera walking out of the chapel with a purse that had been in the lobby.

About a week later, on Oct. 6, reportedly the same man was again seen on surveillance videos rifling through the chapel offices around 11:30 p.m. Nothing appeared to have been taken.

An email was sent out to the students and faculty of Franciscan University with pictures of the suspect caught on camera. He was wearing a yellow, West Virginia University sweatshirt and was reportedly driving a white Ford Taurus with West Virginia license plates.

After receiving the email, the Rev. Dan Pattee, associate professor of theology, recognized the suspect who had approached the friary on the evening of Oct. 6.

As Pattee was leaving to hear confessions, the campus friary’s doorbell rang. Upon answering, the man asked for one of the friars by name. Pattee asked the man who he was and he responded that he was not a student and claimed that his car had broken down in Morgantown, West Virginia. The man said he needed some money for gas so he could get it to Steubenville, Pattee said.

“He looked like he wanted to get into the friary,” said Pattee. “He kept looking around me like he wanted to scope the place out. He had this look in his eyes that at any moment he could flare up. … He looked like he could be unpredictable.”

Pattee proceeded to tell the man that the friar he requested to see wasn’t available and that they didn’t have money to give him, but he offered him food. The man declined and said he just needed money. Later, the suspect also ran into another friar and changed his story about who he was and what he was doing there, said Pattee.

Students were also notified on Oct. 13 that four thefts from vehicles had been reported over the previous weekend. Two of the thefts occurred in Assisi Heights and two near Padua Hall. Three of the four cars were unlocked at the time of the theft. There is no evidence that the vehicle thefts and the Chapel theft are connected.

Jefferson Security is working with the Steubenville Police Department to apprehend the suspect of the Chapel theft and to prevent further thefts. Jefferson Security asks students to help by being more careful about where they leave valuables and making sure that vehicles and residence halls are locked at all times.

If anyone has information about the thefts or suspect, please call campus security at 740-283-6333 or 740-283-6911.