Instances of theft occurring from Lost and Found

Eighth grader Marissa Skor looks for her clothing in the Lost and Found.
Eighth grader Marissa Skor looks for her clothing in the Lost and Found.

Instances of theft are being uncovered by students on a middle-school level, but not in a way that many might expect. A handful of students have been taking clothing or items from the Lost and Found bins in the PE locker room.  Theft of clothing items that have been unclaimed may appear harmless or simply foolish at first glance, but at ASL it seems to be posing a worryingly significant problem to the students who are finding their clothing to be missing.

Middle School Assistant Principal Katie Shefren said that she has not encountered any cases of proven theft at all, as nothing has been reported to her. However, she did state that “it obviously goes against our Core Values as a school.”

When asked about potential punishments, Ms. Shefren prioritized solutions for those who have been stolen from. She stated that, “if something was taken, first and foremost it needs to be returned,” and that these thefts are often accidental, in that students lose track of which PE kits are and are not theirs.

Patrick Kennedy, an eighth grade student, claimed that he had witnessed and interacted with a student stealing on purpose. He refused to mention names, saying that “a kid takes all these sweatshirts that he wears over his shirts because he doesn’t remember his PE kit.” This is an example of why Ms. Shefren has not encountered any cases, meaning that instances of thefts are not being reported to her.

Eighth grader Sam Gentle believes that taking items from the Lost & Found is theft, but not on a major scale, as a lot of money is not at stake. He also said that students should take responsibility for solving this problem by themselves, saying that “it’s just up to the kids in the school.” As well as this, Gentle claims to have lost and never found a jacket, potentially making him a victim.

Students are complaining to each other about their clothes getting lost at school and never retrieved, and theft of clothing from Lost and Found is likely the cause of some of these incidents, although they may not necessarily have been recorded or caught.

Punishments for the potential culprits have not been officially put into place because the school is unable to until incidents are reported.  Gentle decided that punishments should be formally considered, and he said that theft from Lost and Found is not right.

Throughout our community here at ASL, when a generally recurring problem comes to light, middle school authorities take it very seriously, announcing its presence to all students. This usually involves punishing those directly involved quite seriously.

Students like Kennedy, who are witnessing purposeful thefts, provide evidence that this emerging form of stealing, if continued, could have the same effect as the discovery of other recurring problems. However, Kennedy also seemed to realize that it is an unnecessary problem that only has so much potential in which to grow. The reason behind this is that it is so easily avoidable.

The vast majority of ASL students come from families wealthy enough to afford new clothes when necessary. As a whole, unrelated to the PE department, Kennedy said that “everybody should just ask their parents for some clothes if they want them.”

Ms. Shefren said that she “would love to work with the PE department and students to come up with a plan that would really help everyone feel that their items are safe.” With official ASL school rules being put into place against the infraction of theft relating to Lost and Found, then students will have more reason to take the safer alternative of simply asking parents for the newer clothes that they require.      

The correlation between the thefts and PE, however, could be an added problem. A recent rule implemented by the PE department states that if you have forgotten your PE kit, you need to wear the clothes that you were wearing to school that day. The old system of borrowing spare kits from the school has been dropped. This has created an increased desperation and urgency to have a PE kit when students forget their own.

The second part in stopping this form of theft would need to be organizational. Parents are reluctant to constantly buy their children the same outfit over and over and in the case of PE kits, often simply refuse. Kennedy backs this up with his student interaction example.

The only student-on-student example provided here has been with the motive of covering up for PE class. However, Ms. Shefren has still not been informed of a single case. Either way, however, some students, as well as the middle-school assistant principal herself, seem to agree that it is a problem that, if proven significant, requires immediate action.

About Rohan Haarmann ('20)

Staff Writer

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