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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Snack swiper vandalizes Burton vending

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Looking through the bent Plexiglas at the Cheetos and Lay’s: Sour Cream and Onion that hung by just a corner of the bag, I was left wondering: How had he done it? Had the culprit pushed in the glass, then reached over with his hand and jostled the chips on the top row loose? Did he use a coat hanger to get at the gummy worms near the bottom?

Between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, April 21 – April 22, one or more Carleton students broke into the vending machine on the ground floor of Burton Hall. So far, no culprits have been caught, and the total monetary damage is still being determined.

Vending machines have a unique importance to students on campus. At Carleton, a percentage of the revenue generated by laundry and vending machines feeds directly into the CSA student activities budget. This arrangement is rare for most campuses according to Dan Bergeson, Director of Auxiliary Services & Special Projects. For most colleges, revenue goes directly to the business office, but Bergeson said “Somebody, years ago [at Carleton], thought that because students are the ones most likely to use the machines, they should get a rebate.”

This rebate is often between $40,000 to $50,000 each year in additional funding for student groups and events. The majority of this figure comes from the laundry revenue, and in recent years, the vending revenue has been in decline as sugary snack foods become less popular.

Bergeson acts as a liaison between the college and the companies who manage and service the machines on campus. Machines on campus usually carry up to $300 worth of product at a given time, and when machines are broken into, Bergeson is informed by security and handles the repair and restocking of the vandalized machine. Depending on the severity of the incident, the cost can be as much as $500. The bill is then directly invoiced to the CSA student activities budget.

Expressing mild disappointment about the thefts, Bergeson was more concerned about the safety of the students trying to break into the machines. The Studio 3 vending machine, produced by Automatic Products, weighs over a quarter of a ton, and as Bergeson said, “These machines are heavy: if one fell on you, it wouldn’t be pretty.”

During the 2012-2013 school year, vending machines across campus were burglarized. Machines in Evans, Burton, and Cassat residential halls were targeted, often multiple times. On one such occasion that year, a student punched through the glass casing of a vending machine, severely lacerating his hand. He was caught by Security after requiring medical attention. This prompted the school to change the casing to a Plexiglass frame, essentially making the machines safer for students to burglarize.

Bergeson said that during the 2013 rash of burglaries, it was determined by Security that breaking into vending machines had become a campus challenge to some students, a “must do” thing before graduation.

As many as half of vending machine burglars on campus are not caught and punished; however, the burglars from this past week chose a vending machine on campus that is video-monitored.

Security has declined to comment on the investigation at this time.

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