Bend Police are looking into the theft of $150,000 worth of textbooks through all last year. This could be the result of an “organized effort,” according to Ron Paradis, director of College Relations at Central Oregon Community College.
Over one thousand textbooks were stolen from the COCC bookstore last year, Paradis said.
“In the past, all it probably would have been was somebody sneaking a book every now and then,” Paradis said. “This is obviously more.”
Lori Willis, bookstore and auxiliary services director, has worked for COCC for 16 years and has never seen this much theft.
“Typically the loss on an annual basis is around one percent of our gross sales,” Willis said. “What this amount did is put us in the three to four percent category.”
Willis said for a university or college bookstore in Portland or Eugene, this would be normal, but for COCC this is beyond what she’s dealt with.
Paradis believes this could be the result of an organized effort to steal from the bookstore.
“When Lori [Willis] talks about the fact that some of the schools in the valley have higher thefts,” Paradis said, “there are organized efforts at times and we don’t know whether that’s the case over here or not. But it’s kind of a known thing that there are people who go from bookstore to bookstore and figure out what their vulnerabilities are and take advantage of it.”
Numbers were high enough that when Willis told Campus Public Safety, they contacted Bend Police Department, Paradis said.
“Bend Police are investigating possible leads,” Paradis said, “seeing what the issue might be.”
This year, the bookstore has reconfigured their checkout process, putting all the textbooks behind checkout counters at the back, according to Willis. Students will hand employees their student schedule, employees will retrieve the books, and students will pick which books they want to buy.
“We’re actually hoping it will be quicker,” Willis said. “There’s a few college bookstores that use this system already. We’re just learning as we go along.”
Students who have any info on the bookstore theft or possible suspects can contact Bend Police Department at (541) 322-2960 or Campus Public Safety at (541) 383-7272.