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Posted on Wed, May 11, 2011 : 6:12 p.m.

Graduate student catches University of Michigan campus thief - and an award for his effort

By Tom Perkins

The doors were found unlocked. The cash was missing. The candy: Gone.

All pieces of a troubling scenario in office of the Eta Kappa Nu honors society for electrical engineers at the University of Michigan.

But the steps one member took to putting an end to it - by using high-tech tools to catch a thieving doctoral student - earned a U-M graduate student one of several awards handed out on Wednesday by the Department of Public Safety.


Kyle Lady holds a Crime Prevention award certificate he received Wednesday during a ceremony in the Kipke Conference Center at the Campus Safety Services building at the University of Michigan.

Melanie Maxwell I

Kyle Lady received a student Crime Prevention Award at the ceremony in the Campus Safety Services Building on Kipke.

Now that the situation is over, Lady can say he's grateful for the award - and also for the help he received in putting an end to the strange spate of thefts.

“I’m honored to receive the award, although, truth be told, I had the help of the organization of all the other people,” Lady said. “It’s as much their award as mine. I had the responsibility of calling the police, but it was definitely a group effort.”

Lady said he and other students in Eta Kappa Nu hbegan noticing in May 2010 that their office doors were unlocked when they arrived in the morning.

More than one door in the office was discovered unlocked on several occasions, and the students were certain they had not accidentally left multiple doors unlocked.

The electrical engineering students then noticed candy, snacks and cash missing from a snack kiosk used for fundraising.

A week after they would stock the kiosk, Lady said, all the snacks would disappear.

Certain that someone was stealing, Lady and several others who used the offices set up a webcam to record the commons area during the night.

On three different occasions in May and June, the camera recorded a person entering the office. Because the walls were cubicle partitions and didn’t reach all the way to the ceiling, the suspect was climbing over the offices’ walls, then letting himself out through the doors. But he wasn’t locking the doors after he left.

After capturing the suspect on camera, Lady said he called DPS and turned over the feeds.

He said DPS officers then began patrolling the building more than previously, hoping to bump into the suspect.

The incidents occurred during the summer when not many students were on campus. Lady said after another incident, DPS officers were able to use the building’s swipe card log to determine who entered the building that night. Only two people had entered, Lady said, and one was the suspect.

The suspect, who was a doctoral student in the chemistry department, admitted to the crimes, and in total stole around $20 in cash and multiple snacks.

“It seems kind of silly,” Lady said. “I don’t know if there was some other mitigating reason he did this."

U-M spokeswoman Diane Brown said Lady was “instrumental” in catching the suspect. The man was charged with three felony larceny counts but pleaded down to two misdemeanor charges, Brown said.

Lady said it was a strange situation, but he's relieved it was resolved.

"We caught him and he did pay us back for the stuff that he stole, so at least it all worked out.”

See the full program with all of the award-winners here.

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.



Thu, May 12, 2011 : 10:39 p.m.

Mr. Perkins, would you address the question about who the thief was and, if you know, what his punishment was beyond restitution? Thank you.

Paula Gardner

Fri, May 20, 2011 : 2:15 p.m.

The information has been requested and we will get it. It obviously wasn't part of the awards program but we will be following up on it.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 7:49 p.m.

They charged him with three felony counts of larceny for stealing $20 worth of snacks? The county prosecutor's office is wacky.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 12:36 p.m.

He has been convicted, name the criminal. This is pertinent, I don't want to end up in this guy's care. I normally don't join in on the ragging on this site, but I can't think of one good reason not to identify this person.

Kai Petainen

Thu, May 12, 2011 : 3:50 a.m.

Congrats. irony -- the directors awards are given out to directors.

perfectly lubricated weather vane

Thu, May 12, 2011 : 1:03 a.m.

For $20 in cash and multiple snacks he was charged with three FELONY larceny counts? Sure, he eventually pleaded down, but does the original charge have any meaning at all any more, besides as a means to scare 'em straight?


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 12:45 p.m.

I can understand a felony charge for stealing a Snickers bar. But, if they were Neccos wafers, I think he should be required to get a psych evaluation!


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 5:52 a.m.

Its amazing how ignorant most people are of the law, first prosecutors authorize charges not police officers, police officers request charges and prosecutors authorize whatever is appropriate. Second, any larceny in a building that isn't a retail item i.e retail fraud is considered a felony. Third, most first time felons that committ not violent offenses receive a reduction in charges. And finally fourth, our police officers in Washtenaw County deserve a lot better then this discussion, some of you may have had one or two bad experiences with police (probably a traffic ticket) but honestly our officers do a difficult, dangerous job and while they may not be perfect they still run towards your call for help when many run the other way. If you don't like it call a crackhead next time you need help, I'm sure they will do a great job.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 2:57 a.m.

Larceny in a building is a felony. It doesn't matter that it was candy and change. And I wouldn't slam the DPS for not catching him, there's only so much they can do. Victims need to be proactive these days if they want results.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 1:56 a.m.

the charges are just a reflection of the UM's incompetence and to make them seem like they know what they're doing


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 12:32 a.m.

@Ricebrnr...yes, students (as well as employees) are to do their own police work on campus. It seems that campus "police" are there to show up AFTER a crime has been commited, or to pull over people for not using their turn signal when making a turn.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 3:27 a.m.

Doesn't the U have a department of pre-crime? Calling John Anderton...


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 3:09 a.m.

What?!?! Wait read that sentence out loud. Really


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 1:47 a.m.

Well, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to show up BEFORE a crime.

Tom Joad

Wed, May 11, 2011 : 11:14 p.m.

Occasio facit furem (opportunity makes a thief) Don't leave candy lying out in the open


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 12:11 a.m.

The candy was not lying out in the open--it was in a locked room. The keys to this locked room were in a locked office. The problem here was that the walls of this office do not extend all the way up to the ceiling, so this individual was scaling the walls of the office to get these keys so he could unlock the room and steal candy.


Wed, May 11, 2011 : 11:03 p.m.

So on the U's campus you have to do your own police work? Well I suppose that makes sense...


Wed, May 11, 2011 : 10:33 p.m.

Who was the thief and what was his punishment beyond restitution?