Four Hofstra University basketball players were arrested Thursday and charged with committing multiple burglaries on campus, allegedly using their status as athletes to steal expensive electronics from other students' dorms.
Two of the team's leading scorers, Shaquille Stokes, a sophomore who hails from Manhattan, and Jimmy Hall, a freshman from Brooklyn, were charged with the crimes along with two other freshmen players, Kentrell Washington, of Las Vegas, and Dallas Anglin, of Montclair, N.J.
Throughout the 2012 Fall semester, students on Hofstra University's campus in Hempstead have been reporting an increasing number of lost, misplaced and stolen items, mainly Apple electronic devices including iPods, iPads, iPhones and MacBook laptops, according to police.
"They were unsure of whether the items were misplaced or stolen," Det. Lt. Ray Cote, of Nassau County Police's Third Squad, explained during a press conference Friday. "Some were reported, most were not."
But when one female student whose iPad had been stolen in early November logged into her Apple account Tuesday, she discovered that her missing device was now registered to another person -- Shaquille Stokes, a sophomore and guard on Hofstra's basketball team.
With the assistance of Hofstra Public Safety, Nassau County Police launched an investigation, interviewing numerous Hofstra students and staff, and was able to track Stokes' activity on campus using his student ID card, which students must swipe to gain access to different areas throughout campus.
Police connected Stokes to the stolen iPad and other electronic devices reported missing on campus, charging him with five counts of second-degree burglary. They also determined that Hall, Washington and Anglin were allegedly involved. Cote could not go into details but said the four students were found to be in possession of many of the stolen items.
Police charged Hall with four counts of second-degree burglary,Washington with two counts and Anglin with one count. Anglin was also charged with Tapering with Physical Evidence as cops say he attempted to discard of one of the stolen items shortly after being interviewed by police about these crimes.
The four student athletes allegedly stole the items from common areas and dorms in Alliance Hall, Enterprise Hall and Hofstra's graduate hall, often taking advantage of students who left the doors to their suites ajar.
"They are prominent figures on campus, being athletes, and because of their social status they would have access to dorm areas," Cote said. "They would get into areas, visiting one person, and while in that area, they would access a room that was unoccupied and take the electronic devices."
It was initially reported by police that they suspected the players' coach, Mo Cassara, was also one of their victims. Cassara reported that his iPad, iPhone and wallet, including cash and credit cards, were stolen while he was on campus.
Hofstra officials have now confirmed that Cassara reported to Hofstra Public Safety on May 11 these items were missing.
However, "none of the four individuals arrested today were on campus, nor were they members of the Hofstra community at that time," said Karla Schuster, assistant vice president of University Relations.
Cote said the students were attracted to Apple electronics for their high resale value. They were able to wipe out the devices' memory and then sell the items on Craigslist, on the street and on campus to fellow students, as well as pawn shops, using the money they gained "to live a more lavish lifestyle," he explained.
The value of the items they have been charged with stealing at this time exceeds $10,000, according to Cote, but police suspect this figure will increase as more victims come forward.
The four students were arraigned Friday morning in First District Court in Hempstead, entering not guilty pleas, and have been suspended from Hofstra University.
"Hofstra’s Department of Public Safety has been working closely with the Nassau County Police Department since the investigation began," said Melissa Connolly, Hofstra University’s vice president of University Relations, in a statement released to Patch. "Due to the nature of the charges, the four students have been immediately suspended from the University, including the basketball team, classes, residence halls and facilities, pending the outcome of the case."
Bail was set at $25,000 bond, $12,500 cash for Stokes; $20,000 bond, $10,000 cash for Hill; $10,000 bond, $5,000 cash, for Washington; and $4,000 bond, $2,000 cash for Anglin. All four are due back in court on Dec. 4.
This story was updated at 5:37 p.m. on Nov. 30.