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The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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Multiple thefts reported this month

Cash, cards stolen from unattended backpacks in halls
Daniel Baeza
UNATTENDED BELONGINGS. At least six students have reported thefts from their unattended backpacks. Items such as cash and debit cards have been stolen, and school officials are alerting the community to take precaution.

Throughout the hallways and outside of classrooms, backpacks can often be seen lined up on the floor, their owners nowhere in sight. However, in the past few weeks, several students have returned from classes to find the zippers on their backpacks left open, the contents rummaged through, and — worst of all — their wallets emptied of valuables including cash and debit cards. 

School officials are alerting the community to the thefts and warning students to take precautions. Dean of Students Ana Campos announced in a Schoology message on Feb. 12 that in the previous week, six students reported thefts from their unattended backpacks, prompting feelings of concern, confusion and suspicion in the Lab community.

“This is a real breach of our community trust, and it’s disappointing and upsetting,” Ms. Campos said in a Midway interview. “I hope that it doesn’t happen again and that whoever was responsible understands that.”

Based on student interviews, many of the thefts have happened during choir classes, when students were required to leave their backpacks outside the classroom. Since then, the choir teachers have instructed students to bring their belongings into the classroom. 

Ninth grader Sadie Ellis left her choir class on Jan. 30 to find that roughly $35 had been taken from her wallet, which she’d left on top of her backpack. 

“Usually I tuck my wallet behind my backpack, kind of hidden, just for precaution, but this particular day I left it on top of my backpack,” Sadie said. “Then I got out of choir and it had been unzipped and all of the cash was taken, but my credit cards, my library cards and my ID, they were all still there.”

After speaking to her parents, Sadie reported the theft to Ms. Campos, who suggested she, as well as any other students who have had their belongings stolen, file a police report. Ms. Campos said she is running her own investigation but still asks students to file police reports so the police can start their investigation.

Like Sadie, sophomore Maya Livni and one of her classmates each had cash stolen while in choir class. While Maya didn’t report to Ms. Campos the $40 she had taken from her, she said she’s changed her behavior to prevent anything else from being stolen. 

“I now make sure my locker is completely closed. Anything of value I keep in my locker,” Maya said. “I carry my wallet in my pocket now, I don’t put it in my backpack. I make sure that my backpack is on me almost 100% of the time, and when I can’t, I’ll take out the things I hold of value.”

Thefts are also happening in other areas of campus. Sophomore Daniel Wu had $65 and his debit card stolen while he was in P.E. class, after leaving his backpack in a U-High hallway.

“I was a little annoyed about that. Like, that’s not very nice to do obviously. But I was grateful I didn’t keep that much cash,” Daniel said. “It wasn’t a huge sum of cash in my wallet, or it could have been worse.”

While Ms. Campos hopes these thefts don’t continue, she advises students to be constantly aware of their belongings, and take precautions to keep their valuables safe. 

“There’s no reason to have large sums of cash, nothing that is valuable beyond I know everyone has phones and a laptop,” Ms. Campos said, “but it’s really important that if your things aren’t in your immediate supervision then put them in the lockers. That’s why we have them. They’re a secure place to store your things and we’ve got two for each student.”

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About the Contributors
Sahana Unni
Sahana Unni, Editor-in-Chief
Sahana Unni is a member of the Class of 2024 and serves as an editor-in-chief. She began journalism as a ninth grader in the 2020-21 school year and has since appreciated the exposure to different ideas and perspectives. Her favorite story she has written is about the Jane Collective, a group of women who provided safe abortions before the procedure was legalized in the early 1970s. Outside of journalism, Sahana enjoys creative writing and reading, while also serving as an editor-in-chief of the Renaissance literary magazine and a captain of the Mock Trial team.
Awards: 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, special coverage: (with Audrey Park and Clare McRoberts) superior 2024 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: First place, personal opinion: on-campus issues, "New auditorium name at odds with values" 2024 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: Second place (with Zara Siddique), photo layout: full page (Page 3) 2024 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: Certificate of merit, news feature, “Dazzling drag city” 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Honorable mention, online package 2022 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: Cultural feature, certificate of merit, "‘Bridgerton’ effectively represents Indian culture" 2022 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, St. Louis convention: Honorable mention, feature writing 2020 National Scholastic Press Association Fall Best of Show: Sixth Place, Election Reporting (contributor), “As trailblazer for multiple identities, Harris inspires students”
Daniel Baeza
Daniel Baeza, Photographer
Daniel Baeza is a beginning photojournalist and a member of the Class of 2025. His favorite part of photojournalism is learning different photography methods. Danny thinks the most fulfilling part of photojournalism is capturing someone's emotions in one frame. Outside of photojournalism, Danny enjoys playing baseball, drawing and hanging out with friends. Awards: 2023 Association of Texas Photography Instructors Fall Contest, sports action, honorable mention 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, Boston convention: Superior, general/spot news

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