April 6, 2004  
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Student upset over police investigation

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff
Tim Toplak/Gazette
LOVE AND LOSS. A digital camera was recently stolen from the Campus Computer Store on the bottom floor of the University Community Centre.

A Western student who was wrongly accused of theft at the Campus Computer Store is taking administration to task.

“I ordered a laptop through the Campus Computer Store,” said Jacqueline Phan, a third-year administrative and commercial studies student. “Then the police came to my [psychology] lecture — a class with 80 people — took me out of class and told me I was being charged with stealing from the [computer] store.

“No one had even asked me if I was [at the scene of the crime],” she explained.

According to Campus Community Police Service staff sergeant Michael Mics, the theft occurred at the end of the business day on Mar. 8. It was reported to CCPS the next day, and Phan was approached by police on the same day. On Mar. 12, the actual suspect was apprehended.

“There was an eye witness account of a person who saw [the theft]; it was also caught on camera,” said Al Neil, manager of the Campus Computer Store. “It was reported to the campus police, who investigated and approached Jacqueline — it turns out that she’s not a suspect anymore.”

According to Diane Warton, a sales consultant at the store and an eye witness to the theft, the suspect came into the store inquiring about a computer she had ordered. “I pulled up the order and asked the girl if that was who she was — she said yes.”

The suspect then took a camera from the shelf, removed it from its box, and left the store, Warton said. Because Phan’s name had been pulled up, police approached her.

“I don’t see how the system permits someone to give a key eye witness account when that person had no contact [with the accused],” Phan said, noting the suspect was caught on camera and did not even resemble her. “I am Asian, the actual person who stole the camera was not even of Asian descent.”

“There were two people who made the exact same order [at the store] — the two girls were identical in size and build, there were only slight variations between them,” Warton said of Phan and the suspect.

Phan explained that she brought her roommate to the police station to corroborate her alibi. She is now pursuing a complaint against the university, which administers CCPS.

“She obviously doesn’t understand the legal process,” said Mics, noting Phan was being investigated and was not formally charged. “She’s basically misunderstood the investigation process.
“The police can only base their information on what they’ve been told,” Mics said of the eye witness account.

“They had my home address,” Phan said, noting it would have been more appropriate for the police to approach her there.

When asked why police approached Phan at her class, Mics explained “A lot of students don’t [provide] their home address.”

“Ultimately the person who took the camera was charged,” Mics added.

Warton explained that the suspect came back to the store three days later to pick up the laptop she ordered. While she was waiting for her order, the police were called. “She was still here when the police arrived.”

“I don’t have the funds to pursue my legal rights,” Phan said, noting she would launch a civil suit against the university if she could.

“We have recieved a complaint from Jacqueline about the way she was treated,” confirmed Stephen Jarrett, the associate general counsel for the university, noting he could not comment further because the case is still being investigated.



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