Anyone who has ever lost precious personal items in a sudden catastrophe knows that hollow feeling of helplessness that washes over you, along with guilty thoughts of what maybe you could have done to prevent it.
Last April a dozen UMass students working on end-of-the-semester projects, or maybe just blowing off steam playing games (or wasting time on the Internet) suddenly felt that sick empty feeling that comes with first realizing your computer has vanished. Stolen.
UMass Du Bois Library
A serial thief, Christopher Desjardin age 30, had staked out the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, making it his personal hunting preserve. With Mac laptops his BIG game. The perp would stalk students with Macs (a fairly ubiquitous prey) and wait for a moment of inattention. Then simply grab and go.
Unlike a stolen bike, car or television -- which insurance (or parents) can quickly replace -- a laptop has untold hours of irreplaceable work invested within its hard drive. Thus the devastation is squared.
In Eastern Hampshire District Court on Wednesday, Desjardin, with a public defender who cited his "remorse, guilt, shame", pled guilty to all 13 charges, 12 of them larceny over $250 and one for larceny under $250 (tools stolen from Amherst College).
The Du Bois Library only has one main point of entry, which is monitored by surveillance cameras, and after a thorough review UMPD narrowed down Desjardin as a suspect. Plus another victim had given chase and was able to give police a description and identify him on surveillance tapes.
During a police stake out at the library he struck again, was followed by a UMPD officer to his car and quickly arrested red handed.
Drugs played into his less than sophisticated methodology, as police recovered two hypodermic needles with heroin residue inside his vehicle. At least two of the expensive laptops were hawked at "Family Pawn Shop" in Springfield for a total of $550, well below Ebay potential.
After reading all the charges Judge Poelher asked him "Are you pleading guilty because you are guilty?" to which he responded, barely above a whisper, "yes."
The prosecution had recommended a one year sentence in the House of Correction with 6 months served and 6 months suspended with mandatory "drug treatment."
The Judge seemingly went beyond the prosecutor's request sentencing him on each charge to 18 months (rather than 12) six months served, twelve months suspended, two years probation, mandatory drug treatment, write a "letter of apology" to each victim and make restitution.
But the sentences are all "concurrent" rather than front to back, meaning his total time served for all 13 sentences is only six months and even that could be reduced by the sheriff in charge at the jail.
Not a lot of time considering all the heartache induced... and labor lost.