Peculiar theft at Tech leaves UP, physics grad students scratching heads

Alison Knezevich

Police are investigating the unusual theft of nine photographs from a display case in the physics department that occurred last weekend.

The photos were all of women, and all but one of them were Asian, said physics department assistant Lurleen Flores. She said the photos were stolen between March 26 and March 29 from a glass display case at the Technological Institute, 2145 Sheridan Rd.

Flores said it was immediately clear that the offender had stolen pictures of mostly Asian females from the case. She said it appeared that the thief had chosen to take only certain photos.

“It was like somebody wanted us to know,” she said.

The photos of seven graduate students, a faculty member, and a researcher were discovered missing March 29, Flores said.

Assistant Chief Daniel McAleer of University Police said officers found pry marks on the frame of the display case. The case’s doors had been damaged and two locks were missing.

McAleer said police did not dust for fingerprints because so many people already had touched the case.

Flores said the physics department asked UP to take extra precautions to protect their safety.

Physics student Zigeng Yin said her picture was one of those stolen from the display case. She said she was not necessarily scared but was baffled by the incident.

“I cannot understand what the purpose of this kind of action is,” said Yin, a second-year graduate student. “I just think it’s so strange.”

Mary Messall, a first-year physics graduate student, said she especially was shocked to be the only non-Asian whose photo was stolen.

“That’s the part that’s most mystifying to me,” she said.

“It certainly is suspicious,” said McAleer, who added that despite the racial slant, there is not enough evidence to assume that the theft was a hate crime.

The investigation remains open, McAleer said, but police have no leads.