A WordsWorth investigation into the stolen Economic Hot Dog Stand cash boxes’ money has uncovered a trend of 10s and 20s being stolen out of cash boxes on campus after hours, dating back to June 2017.
“We found that in most of the [Economic Hot Dog Stands’ boxes] the 20 [dollar bills] and 10 [dollar bills] were missing, presumably to avoid detection [that money was missing from the box],” History Department Chair and Economics teacher Clark Thomson told the Upper School during a Meeting for Worship announcement on January 31.
— MFS WordsWorth (@MFSWordsWorth) February 1, 2018
Over the course of reporting the story, WordsWorth uncovered two more instances where 10 and 20 dollar bills were stolen from cash boxes overnight.
The first instance occurred last fall in the Dining Hall Commons. Choice Foods Owner Karen Gosik told WordsWorth that “10s, 20s, and big bills” have been stolen. She noted that the timing was “at night” when the doors are locked: “There are a few different keys to this building, too. It’s just very frustrating.”
Healthy Foods by Choice has put measures in place to ensure that money is not stolen again from Healthy Foods by Choice in the Dining Hall Commons, according to Gosik, who would not elaborate on what those measures are, for security purposes.
Gosik stressed from the beginning that she has “no proof of [who did it] but [she] know[s] [the money] is gone.” She added that it made her “very mad” to hear that the money was stolen from the Economics class stands after she saw students “working so hard out there in the snow.”
WordsWorth also discovered money went missing from Humanitarian Aid Society’s Water Ice fundraiser on the last Thursday of the 2016-2017 school year.
Club advisor Gail Barna explained that at the end of the day she put the “money in the corner of [her] office and locked the door before leaving.” When she returned the following Monday for the teacher in-service days, there was just a little bit more than the starting $50 the group had received for change from the Business Office remaining in the cash box.
“I just figured someone had taken the money home to reimburse their parents for the water ice, but when we got back [in September, no members in the club said] they had taken the money. The one member’s parents who had purchased the $40 in water ice for us had not, and still has not, been reimbursed for the water ice,” said Barna.
Humanitarian Aid Society Treasurer Julia Kropiewnicki told WordsWorth that the group “never considered that [the money] had been stolen because it had been in Mrs. Barna’s office.” Barna added that she did not consider the possibility of it being stolen until she heard the news of the Economics Hot Dog Stands.
Director of Finance and Operations Lisa Carbone Warren said the business office was not aware of any of the three instances.
“I will say it is always very tricky when stuff is missing because you don’t want to accuse people and you sort of automatically go to certain things but I would like to have more facts [before coming to a conclusion],” said Carbone Warren, adding that the school has security officers at night, who she will speak with regarding the incidents.
“[People] shouldn’t keep money in their rooms. They should bring it down to the business office,” said Carbone Warren, “We have a separate lock from anyone else so nobody has a key to [the business office] except those who work here, and we have a safe that has a different key, too.”
“Regarding looking into it any further, we’re probably not going to find out who did it,” said Carbone Warren, adding that measures will be put in place like reminding people to bring their money back down to the Business Office before the end of the day.
Carbone Warren, who has been at Moorestown Friends for 28 years, said that incidents like this are pretty rare: “We haven’t had things like that, at least reported to me … which is good but it seems like we need to look into this and have some investigating, which I will do.”
In the process of explaining how MFS has had a mostly clean record during her time here, Carbone Warren said that when the night custodial staff used to clean, they would go down a hallway and open every door so they could clean each room without stopping to unlock and lock the door every time.
“We actually told [the custodial staff] not to do that and to open one door at a time so that there is nobody else in [the room except them when they are cleaning],” she said. Carbone Warren stressed that many people have keys to access the room.
Moorestown Friends does not have indoor cameras, despite the fact that Lisa Carbone Warren said she has requested them in the past.
“The school feels that [having cameras is] bad optics. It doesn’t look good to have surveillance cameras all around,” said Carbone Warren. She went on to explain the cameras would need to be everywhere to have an effect.
Freshman Abigail Dawson said she would be okay with security cameras “if it’s necessary in a few places where [stealing] keeps happening.” On the other hand, Dawson said, “having cameras everywhere wouldn’t be such a good idea.”
Junior Christian Moorhouse opposed the ideas of putting up cameras because it would be “creepy.” He added that people need to “be more careful where they put things if this is a recurring problem.”
Physical Education and Health Teacher Kristen Makatche echoed Moorhouse’s sentiment: “We see thefts all the time in the PE department. In the locker room, people just leave their stuff out and don’t lock it in their locker. Everything that is valuable is in the backpack and it’s just sitting there [on the floor of the locker room].”
“Allowing a culture of complacency in our school is toxic. Not only is stealing catastrophic to the individual organizations that are targeted, but it breeds a culture of harassment, intimidation, and fear,” wrote Senior and Meeting for Worship for Business Clerk Sujin Kim wrote in a statement to WordsWorth on behalf of the Upper School Student Government Clerks, “This is not in the spirit of our community. Stealing from charity fundraisers is certainly not an issue that we would have expected to see in our school and we are deeply disappointed that this happened; but we expect to see due diligence in stopping this from happening again. We ask the community to be conscientious. To hold each other to a higher standard. To remain ethical and be honorable. We ask the community to do what is expected of us. We can do better.”
Carbone Warren said she will keep WordsWorth and the school community apprised of any developments.