Cracking Down on Theft

In response to increasing rates of theft, Dartmouth Dining Services (DDS) has enacted new anti-theft measures in the past couple weeks. The rear exit of the Collis Cafe has been closed off during late night hours, while cameras have been installed in the Class of 1953 Commons (FoCo), Courtyard Cafe (the Hop), and Novack Cafe to monitor theft. In addition, DDS employees – especially managers – are increasingly vigilant of lines at DDS venues to monitor potential theft.

Bananas similar to this one are commonly stolen from '53 Commons, resulting in dire financial straits for Dartmouth Dining Services.

Bananas similar to this one are commonly stolen from ’53 Commons, resulting in dire financial straits for Dartmouth Dining Services.

In an interview with The Daily Dartmouth, DDS director Mr. David Newlove reported especially high theft rates on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights- “I can’t seem to explain it, but there seems to be a correlation between bad behavior and alcohol and drug use,” he carefully explained. Although The Review could not get in contact with a health expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to confirm this, The Review ran an informal survey of 18 premed undergraduates at the College, 12 of whom confirmed that “alcohol and drug use” indeed has a positive relationship with “bad behavior.” The other six were waiting on further research on the effects of alcohol and drug use on human behavior.

But the anti-theft measures come at a time when DDS is under increasing scrutiny for high prices and criticisms of actual food quality. While The Dartmouth Review could not find any hard statistics regarding theft at DDS venues, we speculate that – given DDS’ exorbitantly high prices and wide profit margins – the lost potential profits for DDS are staggering.

“Prices at Novack and Collis are ridiculous,” a ’17 who wished to remain anonymous said to The Review. “Maybe that has something to do with it?”

Indeed, the high price-theft correlation was brought up by others we spoke to as well. The Review spoke to an ’18 – who wished to be identified as A. Smith – currently taking Economics 1. “From what I’ve been led to believe, I think that the high prices of food items at DDS establishments increases the marginal cost of buying each additional unit of food. That said, the opportunity cost of not stealing by simply buying an additional item of food becomes that much higher, and the economic incentives therefore make stealing an additional unit of food a very economically attractive option. A two dollar milk carton or brownie here and there adds up to a lot of dining dollars.”

Daily Dartmouth survey of undergraduates revealed that 1953 Commons or “FoCo” is the most common site of student theft.

“Some extra bananas and apples stolen here and there can really add up to several dozen dollars a month,” a student FoCo worker who wished to remain anonymous citing job safety reasons told us.

A. Smith ’18 further explained that “the economic experts’ consensus is that in lieu of purchasing and installing new security cameras, DDS should consider lowering prices as the most cost effective way of reducing theft.”

Unfortunately, this is the exact opposite of the current DDS pricing policy. In an interview with The Daily Dartmouth, DDS director Mr. David Newlove reported that the company is forced to raise prices in response to the increased overall costs of the organization attributed to food theft.

Is there a possibility that raising food prices in response to theft would only result in a Catch-22 of students responding with stealing even more food? “I’m not exactly sure,” A. Smith ’18 answered, “but logic would say so.”

We at The Dartmouth Review condemn all acts of theft and advise students of the College to refrain from breaking the law. Moreover, we hope that the prevalence of theft in Hanover, New Hampshire does not spiral further out of control.