by Scott Williams
Daily Cougar Staff
Potato chips, candy bars and gum are among the items that University of Houston students get from on-campus vending machines every day.
Someone is getting more than that, though. According to the UH Police Department, Canteen Corporation vending machines throughout the campus have been robbed to the tune of $5,000.
UHPD Lt. Malcolm Davis said an investigation into the thefts indicates that the same method of entry was used in all the robberies. This, he said, is evidence that the robberies are related. "It could be more than one person, but if it is, they're working together."
Davis added that one of the robberies may have been witnessed. "We have a composite (of the suspect) and we are showing it to people we think may have seen this guy," he said. "If we can locate this individual, we can hopefully find out if he's working alone or with others."
Canteen Corporation service manager David Clarke said the robberies are not isolated to UH. The company has also lost $2,600 in similar thefts at North Harris Montgomery County Community College System's Tomball College, and Clarke estimated that the citywide total of losses is currently in the range of $10,000.
"He may be some kind of locksmith," Clarke said of the thief, who has used keys to open up the machines and take the money within.
Until the perpetrator is caught, Clarke said, the company is taking protective measures, such as changing the locks on the machines. He added that further measures, such as the installation of alarms and cameras, have been considered.
"Whoever is doing these robberies isn't just some crank," said Clarke. "He's a professional, and if he's a pro there's really nothing we can do. Alarms don't really do any good. I hear car alarms go off all the time and for several minutes, and no one pays much attention to them."
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