Out of Order: Brass Bandits Stalling Cal Commodes

By Jessica Greene
|  Tuesday, Feb 9, 2010  |  Updated 7:24 AM PDT
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People typically make a quick run to the bathroom and leave something behind. But on the UC Berkeley campus, there's a something being taken away from the restrooms that's putting them out of order.

Tool-wielding bandits have hit up restrooms across campus, removing the brass flushing hardware from toilets. So far, more than three dozen commodes have been targeted, campus police Chief Mitch Celaya told the Oakland Tribune.

It might sound like a funny prank but to school officials, it no potty humor. With each part costing more than $250 to replace, the school is looking at a repair bill topping more than $9,000.

The thieves are looking to sell the spare parts as scrap, campus police Captain Margo Bennett said, and it seems they've become bolder. They usually hit up buildings that are out of use or have a lot of loose parts that might go unnoticed if stolen.

The word of warning is out on campus, Bennett says, to help flush out the thieves.

"If you see people walking around with bags that look like they may be carrying tools or parts, give us a call." She advises the campus. "We're hoping to pick up some sightings of suspicious people in the area."

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