The police are investigating a break-in at Stellenbosch University’s JC Smuts Building on Sunday. University spokesperson Martin Viljoen said two laptops and an external hard drive containing research data were stolen.
The research data was not lost as back-up copies are stored elsewhere and older information on the hard drive is also available in other formats.
The building houses the biochemistry department, among others.
Undergraduate students had reported the incident to campus security.
“This was an unfortunate incident and the university shares in the department’s disappointment and frustration over crime in the country,” said Viljoen.
“Despite progress over the past few years [the university’s crime statistics are at a 10-year low], the university is unfortunately not immune to criminal activities as experienced in the rest of the country.
“The fact that we are an open campus also presents unique security challenges.”
He thanked the postgraduate students for bringing the break-in to the attention of campus security.
According to a report on MatieMedia, the thieves gained access through a lecturer’s office. The hard drive contained about 30 years of research.
A biochemistry student reportedly noticed the break-in when he went to feed his cell cultures. It looked as though the thieves had tried to get into other offices but could not.
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