Midday burglary serves as reminder to secure valuables


Reygan Jones

Rev. Ned Mulligan’s laptop was stolen from his office on the second floor of the Quad on Aug. 14. Police apprehended the thief within 24 hours.

Laney Chang, Assistant Online Editor-in-Chief

This piece was originally published in the Oct 2, 2018 issue of The Review

When Rev. Ned Mulligan returned to his office on the second floor of the Quad on Aug. 14 after his daily lunch break, he immediately noticed the absence of his most necessary possession—his laptop.

“It was hard for me to believe that it wasn’t there,” said Mulligan, Director of Spiritual Life. “I started second-guessing myself; maybe I left it somewhere.”

After thoroughly searching his office and retracing his steps, Mulligan came to the almost certain conclusion that his laptop had been stolen. 

He called Richard Still, Director of Safety & Facilities & Physical Plant, to file a report.

“My first thought was that he left it at home or that someone from the I.T. team picked it up because he wasn’t in his office,” Still said. “When things go missing, usually it’s a mistake and the object shows up in a day or so.”

Security footage, however, showed a man entering Mulligan’s unlocked office with an empty laptop bag. According to Still, the thief walked down the circle drive and out Gate 1, which was open and unmanned at the time.

“As soon as I saw the individual walk in, I had a pretty good idea that I’d never seen him before,” Still said.    

Still reported the incident to River Oaks Police and the School’s security team. Within 24 hours, they had found, identified and arrested the burglary suspect — whom police apprehended on Del Monte Dr. in River Oaks. The laptop, which Mulligan had already erased remotely, was not recovered. 

“He most likely sold or pawned it, so it will take a while to track down,” Still said. “We will most likely get it back unless he threw it in the bayou somewhere.”

According to Still, the thief had previously been arrested 37 times. 

For Mulligan, the event was a wake-up call.

“It was a real lesson for me,” Mulligan said. “During the school year, with everyone around, that kind of thing can’t happen, but I’m going to keep my door locked and be more cautious. Had I locked my door or put my laptop in my drawer, he wouldn’t have gotten it.”

The theft occurred under “rare circumstances,” according to Still. Since school was not yet in session, there were many people on campus preparing for the new year, including vendors and the construction crew remodeling the library. 

“When students are on campus, this would never happen,” Still said. “We’re better prepared for people who are supposed to be in or on campus.”

On a typical school day, Mulligan says that security naturally increases.

“If you see someone on campus without a name tag, take them to an ambassador or to an office,” Mulligan said. “I don’t think there’s anything anyone needs to worry about, though.”

Still stresses that students and faculty should always secure their valuables.

“Carry your phones with you,” Still said. “When you leave the school, you have to take that same [mindset] with you.”

Two years ago, Josephine Dodd and her sister Helen (’17) went to the Rice Village for dinner and left their backpacks in their car unattended. While they were eating, someone smashed their car window and stole both of their bags. Josephine and Helen called the police, but no help came.

“I was pretty calm,” Josephine, now a senior, said. “But it felt weird to have your personal space broken into.”

The next day, Josephine inexplicably found both backpacks on campus near the administration office. The thieves had stolen her laptop, planner and pencil bag. A good samaritan found the bag, noticed it belonged to a St. John’s student, and returned it to the school.

“I’m much more aware of taking things with me when I go places,” Josephine said. “Sometimes I’ll bring my backpack with me into the grocery store. I still feel pretty safe on campus.”

Still advises the school community to be conscientious of their surroundings.

“If you see something, say something,” he said. “That’s the key. You see something that sparks your curiosity, something that doesn’t seem quite right, let us know. For every set of eyes and ears we have, we’re all better off.”