Chemistry robberies spark security fears over key card doors

SECURITY SERVICES ARE reported to be concerned that campus key cards may be in the possession of non-students after thefts in the Chemistry department.

Three students had personal possessions, including credit cards and phones, stolen from the department, which is only accessible through a locked key card door, on 5th December.

It is believed that a student actually let in the two males, described as in their early 20’s with one wearing a tracksuit, believing them to be members of the department as they were brandishing a key card. It is not yet known whether the key card was able to open the door, or whether it was used as a dummy.

Ellie Hurst was one of the victims and her credit cards and handbag was stolen. Hurst, a postgraduate research student, said “It only used to be us research students who had key cards for the Chemistry department, but now they have given them to 500 undergraduates.
“It’s obviously a lot busier now and you don’t know everyone so it’s hard to be able to tell who’s a student and who’s not.”

A student became suspicious and followed the two men into the office of Ellie Hurst, a postgraduate research student. When challenged, they left the department. A tutor followed behind and confronted them as they left the campus site, but they refused to stop. The culprits have yet to be caught.

This is not the first time the key card system has failed to deter criminals from theft of property on campus.

Last year more that £3,000 worth of goods were stolen from three adjacent blocks in James College. Sam Hanna, a first year English student, left his room with music on and curtains closed while he spent the night away.

On returning to his ground floor room the next day he discovered that the window had been kicked in, and his laptop stolen.
A motorbike was stolen a week after that, from a James key card protected bike shed, in broad daylight. An examination of the scene revealed that the metal door had been cut through.

The owner of the bike, Tom Adam, saw it being driven away, but was powerless to chase after them. He said: “They were young teenagers around fifteen or sixten. It all happened around lunchtime and I saw my bike driven off from my window.

These incidences have shown that the key card system suffers the same flaws as the code lock doors, still found on some college residences, as they can’t prevent professional thieves exploiting the human card user.

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