Nicole Gonzalez left to use the restroom and came back to an empty table.
The 21-year-old UF psychology junior was studying at Marston Science Library when her laptop and wallet were stolen in August, the week of Summer B finals.
She was gone for no more than a minute, she said. That’s all it took.
Gonzalez’s case is one of the 36 reported library thefts from last year, 20 of which occurred in Marston, according to a University Police crime report. The total number of thefts increased from 16 in 2013.
According to a UPD nonviolent crime report, overall, the number of reported nonviolent crimes — including property theft — increased from 404 to 594 from 2013 to 2014. The number of violent crimes increased from 10 to 13, according to a 2014 UPD report.
UPD Chief Linda Stump said sexual assault cases fall into the violent crime category.
“Part of the reason why we’re getting an influx in numbers is that people are feeling more comfortable in reporting,” Stump said.
UPD, UF’s Chief Operating Officer Charlie Lane and the libraries are working together to increase security measures. The plan includes adding security guards and installing high-resolution security cameras in both Marston Library and Library West, said Patrick Reakes, associate dean for scholarly resources and services.
There are now about 13 cameras between Marston Library and Library West. There will be more than 70 by the end of this semester if all goes as planned, Reakes said.
For Gonzalez, however, the cameras won’t stop her from keeping an eye on her belongings.
“Every time I go to the bathroom, if my friend’s not there, I take my laptop with me,” Gonzalez said. “I’m definitely not going to stop.”
Stump said there were no developments in the alleged on-campus sexual assault cases last year, and all leads have been exhausted.
However, the cases still caused enough concern to increase safety measures, Reakes said.
“We’ve never had — knock on wood — any kind of violent crime in the libraries,” he said.
At Library West, the second security guard will start coming in earlier, Reakes said. Marston will also gain a second guard, who will start ID-checking at 10 p.m. while the other guard roams.
UPD also does periodic plain-clothes details at the libraries, when an officer disguised in regular clothes surveys the buildings, Stump said.
Although there was an increase in library theft, a significant number of thefts occurring on campus are bike-related, Stump said. She said UPD has successfully caught culprits during plain-clothes operations, when the officer in disguise watches a bike he or she left unlocked.
“Use anything that you can to mark your property with, some sort of ID mark, or register your bike with us,” Stump said.
[A version of this story ran on page 1 - 4 on 3/30/2015 under the headline “Campus crime rises in 2014; more library security to come”]
A GPD officer speaks with students and campus volunteers in front of Library West on Monday night. UPD combined with GPD to increase campus patrols following four assaults that happened on and near campus within the span of nine days.