The GC Sign


Jennifer Crider, Contributing Writer

The letters from the GC sign on the corner of N Clarke Street and Montgomery Street have been repeatedly stolen by students. For the first time in a long time, the letters have remained intact throughout the entirety of this school year.

“Since we had that last rash of letter thefts, we modified some things and I don’t recall another incident happening,” said Director of Public Safety Brett Stanelle. “It slowed things down, and it has not been a prominent issue since.”

This sign in particular is heavily targeted due to its convenient location.

“The sign is located on a busy street. It is near a lot of student houses,” Stanelle said. “People are always walking by. It is a crime of opportunity.”

Taking the letters from the GC sign was becoming a trend that students would use to memorialize their time at GC. Stanelle has been working at GC since 2019. He said this sign has been heavily targeted in his three years of working on campus.

“For a period of time, stealing the letters from that particular sign became a tradition. They would usually steal one of the G, C, S, or U letters in particular,” Stanelle said. “It was a recurring issue until there was a combined effort between multiple campus authorities.”

Using stolen property as a piece of memorabilia is not unique to GC, and it’s a common practice among young adults.

“A lot of the signs my friends have stolen are from their hometowns, so it’s kind of cool seeing a street sign from where they grew up in their apartments,” said junior theater major Zach Kingsley. “It is nostalgic. It is like a trophy from their childhood.”

The last letter heist occurred on a weekend night in April 2021. To find the perpetrator, Shawn Brooks, vice president of student life, sent an email to the student body urging the culprit to come forward with the stolen property.

“If you or someone you know is responsible for the vandalism, you can return the letters to my office (206 Parks Hall) by 12:00 PM on Friday with no questions asked,” Brooks wrote in a campus-wide email.

Two weeks later, the letters had still not been returned, so Brooks sent another email to the student body. This strongly worded email offered a reward for anyone with information on the thief’s identity.

Brooks’ second email stated, “Otherwise, we will be offering a $500 reward for information leading to the identification of the person(s) responsible. If your information leads to an arrest, arrangements will be made to pay the reward.”

The financial reward gave a student an incentive to come forward with information they knew, and the thief was caught and served justice.

“Rewards deter future events from occurring and it also encourages the campus community to speak up when they see something,” said Stanelle. “We appreciate the partnership with student life services. That level of communication puts things out that helps us get ahold of a situation before it gets out of hand.”

After this incident, GC made some changes to the sign. The letters are no longer made out of copper.

“We switched to a different model. Those letters are now being 3D printed which helps reduce the cost in the event of theft,” Stanelle said. “If an event this like occurred again, it would still come with consequences, but it would not be as expensive of an issue.”