CSUN now sells S.T.O.P. plates in Matador Bookstore to prevent theft

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>>>CORRECTION: S.T.O.P. plates purchased through the official S.T.O.P. website is $25, not $20.

CSUN Police Department (PD) is selling Security Tracking of Office Property (S.T.O.P.), a theft deterrent plate for electronic devices, for the first time ever in the Matador Bookstore.

Since S.T.O.P.’s inception in 2006, the plates were only available for purchase at PD headquarters and at the campus police substation on Zelzah Avenue adjacent to campus.

The plates are sold and installed by the CSUN PD for $10. Students, faculty, and staff can participate in this program by buying a plate to discourage theft.

Users can also install the plates themselves by purchasing an installation kit through S.T.O.P.’s website for $20.

“We want to be sure to have something in place that can help students, faculty and staff with [protecting] electronic equipment,” said CSUN Police Chief Anne Glavin. “Most students pay good money for this equipment. It’s not something that you want to go out and buy again.”

The plates are designed to alert potential thieves that the device is registered with the national S.T.O.P. database. The database contains the identifiable information of a user’s registered device, such as an address and telephone number, and the device’s unique serial number, make, model and type.

A code printed on the plate allows police or S.T.O.P. to access the identifiable information, even across state lines.

The program is available for any technology that has a serial number, said ChristinaVillalobos, PD public information officer— from laptops and iPhone’s to scanners, projectors, printers and televisions.

To further discourage potential thieves, a sticker printed in bright red type is placed beside the plate, marking the device as being registered with S.T.O.P.

If a device is found by someone other than the device’s owner, an 800-number is printed on the plate and sticker can be dialed to assist in recovery. Thieves can also see the number on the sticker and are encouraged to call it to “identify the owner and avoid prosecution,” the sticker reads.

The plate is designed to make it virtually impossible to remove. Doing so will cause severe damage to the device.

If the device is nonetheless removed, a chemically etched permanent tattoo underneath the plate warns the thief the device is registered.

The decision by campus police to sell the plates through the Matador Bookstore was made as a matter of convenience for students who may wish to pay for the plates with a debit or credit card, Villalobos said. Campus police only accept cash transactions.

Additionally, the decision to sell S.T.O.P. plates was made as more students purchased iPads this semester due to the newly-implemented iPad initiative program. The program requires students in some classes to own a tablet device to complete coursework.

“Anyone can make the logical conclusion that there’s going to be a lot more iPads on campus, which is going to increase the chances of theft,” Villalobos said.

Although the plates are designed to discourage theft, students must remain vigilant at all times.

“Having the S.T.O.P. plate on your device… isn’t going to 100 percent prevent it from being stolen. It’s not full proof,” Villalobos said.

CSUN sociology major Charmane Bethune recently lost her MacBook Pro after leaving it in a classroom in Sierra Hall. Upon realizing she had left her computer there, Bethune returned to the classroom to find it gone.

The laptop, Bethune said, contained school notes, recommendation letters, and personal and financial information such as her social security number and her boyfriend and parent’s information. The laptop had no insurance, and the AppleCare warranty had recently expired.

Although Bethune had never heard of S.T.O.P. before, she said such programs can go a long way in possibly locating student’s missing devices.

“It’s something I have to worry about now, because of my personal information,” Bethune said regarding the theft. “If you are carrying electronics, make sure they are always with you and that you can see them.”

In the meantime Bethune will be keeping an eye on her and her parent’s respective accounts for any fraudulent activity.

“Hopefully, I can get it back,” Bethune said. “I am keeping my fingers crossed.”

For more information about S.T.O.P., contact CSUN PD at (818) 677-5820.

“Most folks learn by being victimized at least once,” Glavin said. “We’ve seen the pattern, we know it happens. Trust us. You could be victimized really easily. Protect yourselves.”

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