Is theft a cancer slowly eating up the students?


n 2016, The Standard ran a story about four missing computers and two projectors from both the faculties of Business Administration and Social Sciences. This semester the university has lost two projectors to theft.

In 2015, the Mass Communication department was robbed and three cameras, a photo printer, storage devices and internet access equipment were also lost.

From 2017 so far five projectors have been stolen.

According to the procurement department a Dell projector costs  around Shs5 million, and if one is to monetize the loss of five projectors, that is an estimated Shs25 million, a huge setback for the institution.

 And the perpetrators of this vice are surprisingly within the university confines, and most suspects are students.

 One Deng Hillary Garang, a second-year UCU student, was caught in the act of stealing a classroom projector recently.

 “The thieves are from within and when we try to investigate, students glorify the thieves saying they are smarter than the security, instead of condemning them! I find it very strange,” said the head of security, Charles Nahamya.

 Despite their efforts to cub this crime, Nahamya adds that they do not get support from the student community as they conduct their investigations and yet security expects support from them because they know these culprits.

 “The theft has implications for the university. Instead of adding more equipment, we are replacing and it also make us the security look like we are not serious with our work.”

It is assumed that the thieves work in teams, so that when one is removing the projector for example, the others are watching to see if there is any security personnel patrolling.

The students who spoke to The Standard, however fault the University administration for not motivating security staff.

“The security guys to me are not doing their work because they do not get their desired privileges. For example I read in the paper last time that they were being denied food. How do you expect a hungry person to keep watch when his or her stomach is empty? That is why people who steal these things are able to beat the security because they are less motivated,” Isaac Lamamba a student of social sciences  reasoned.

And loss of property is not confined to the university campus alone. In the halls of residence the students keep losing property day in, day out.

The chief custodian, Henry Nsubuga, said that in the halls of residence, two laptops have so far been reported missing this year.

However, he notes that the students are careless sometimes.

“The security officers are not entirely to blame. Students should take individual responsibility for their property.

Our students are careless! We try hard to call them for briefing meetings but they dodge and yet in these meetings we tell them how they can ensure security in their rooms.”

“They invite outsiders to their rooms, who eventually steal from them.”

Moses Mayanja, a security guard at UCU points to lack of burglar proof equipment which the thieves take advantage of, peer pressure and in-born mannerisms as the major propellers for theft among students.

“And the projector cages were very weak, that is why some were able to open them. Further, the students backgrounds are not checked; only their grades are considered so you find that people have different backgrounds which we cannot determine  making it tricky to smoke the thieves out.”

Mayanja recommends counselling for the culprits, and if there is no improvement then imprisonment can be the last resort.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="959"] Sometimes theft can be a predisposed gene which may cost us jobs if not checked (Internet photos)[/caption]


Word from the counsellor

Joseph Musalo, a senior counsellor, argues that it is hard to know someone’s counselling needs unless these people come up to explain their problems.

“However, the causes of theft range from peer pressure, poor parenting, predisposed genes (inborn), and habits learnt based on various factors. There are people who are provided with all they want but still go ahead and steal.”

Musaalo adds that lack of self-esteem is another cause, and those affected use these habits as a shield to build confidence.

“Counselling would help such people because if you do not treat the cause, it may cost one a job later, among other consequences. It is important to treat small mistakes before they become big otherwise some people may start stealing from work.”


The security department this year has beefed up its numbers by hiring four more security guards. “Because we have been limited in space! And we could not be everywhere at the same time, with this initiative we hope to have officers man a smaller physical area and be effective rather than man a big area and not be effective,” Nahamya said.

Also, 31 CCTV cameras have been installed in different locations, and Nahamya emphasizes that in the places rigged with cameras they have registered massive success in helping to capture the thieves.

Punitive measures

Mr Nahamya notes that much as the police is there to have the cases registered and investigated, the criminals are not taken to court because the implications are far reaching.

“We do not want to destroy the future of these students but rather secure it for their own good that is why we keep it administrative.”

At this rate, it is important that all stakeholders join hands to fight off this vice before student morality erodes further.

The thefts may look small on face value but the cost to the institution’s credibility and bottom line is much higher and needs to be seriously considered because a stitch in time saves nine!

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