Canon USA and Pierce Media Arts equipment thefts linked

Missing Pierce College Media Arts Department equipment was found in a student’s possession while police investigated a Canon facility theft, a faculty member said.

A Canon U.S.A., Inc. theft investigation, led by the Los Angeles Police Department, resulted in the arrest and conviction of Pierce College student Mickola Lucian van Reingold.

District Attorney Media Relations Spokesperson Ricardo Santiago said the theft was reported by Canon U.S.A., Inc. on Oct. 15, 2016, following a student photojournalism seminar in its facilities on Sunset Boulevard.

According to the Los Angeles Inmate Information Center, van Reingold was arrested and booked by the LAPD Hollywood Division on April 11, 2017. The official charges were filed, and van Reingold was released on $5000 bail on April 13, 2017.

Media Arts Department Chair Jill Connelly said Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Al Guerrero, liaison to the LAPD, informed her that Pierce College Media Arts equipment was recovered from the suspect’s residence by police.

van Reingold declined to comment.

Pierce College Deputy Sheriff Lazaro Sanchez said a report was filed, and camera equipment went missing from the Media Arts Department, but declined to disclose any further details about the incident report.

Sean McDonald, assistant adjunct professor and instructional assistant of photography, works closely with the Pierce College Media Arts equipment. He said there were two incidents of theft within the department.

McDonald said two Canon digital camera bodies with kit lenses, a macro lense, camera bag and accessories, such as battery and charger, also went missing. He said the approximate replacement value of the stolen property is $6000.

The initial theft occurred within the same time frame as the Canon U.S.A., Inc theft.

The first theft became apparent to McDonald after he returned from Thanksgiving break in fall 2016. He recalled “suspicious activity” the week prior to break.

McDonald said he remembered a student wandering into the studio, an area not accessible to students.

McDonald said the second theft occurred in spring 2017, during a break for his evening classes. He noticed that a camera “disappeared” after setting it down on a table.

“I was just floored that it happened and that nobody else in the class saw it. There was a class of about 25 students, and not one student noticed that the camera walked out of here that night,” McDonald said.

Two weeks following the theft, McDonald said he was informed that Pierce College tags were found on equipment that was retrieved from an unrelated Pierce College theft.

“We heard rumour from the LAPD that they did recover camera equipment with our name on it,” McDonald said.

McDonald said the Media Arts Department has taken the necessary precautions moving forward to ensure that gear is safe from potential thefts.

“Everything is locked up constantly,” McDonald said. “I’ve been running the cameras a little bit more often to see what’s going on in the space. We’ve been paying attention to people walking around, and I do have student workers here a lot more than I did that last semester.”

McDonald said the equipment is accessible to students with financial difficulties.

“A lot of our equipment is funded through grants or college funds,” McDonald said. “There are always have and have nots, and even in community college you have students who have equipment, who have all the stuff they need and some students who don’t.”

McDonald said the equipment helps students learn and succeed.

“There’s a really good sports shooter right now on the newspaper,” McDonald said. “If that lens that the sports shooter is using right now had been stolen last year, that student would not be learning how to be a better sports shooter, and that right there is why we have the equipment where we can give you the opportunity to use a piece of equipment that you cannot maybe afford, and then you can have a portfolio and that can help you get to school or get a job because you’ve used good equipment.”

McDonald said the thefts “makes us more suspicious of students,” but “it’s very rare” for equipment to go missing or unreturned by students due to the procedure that is required to check out equipment.

“We have a good record of what’s going on and who has what,” McDonald said. “The students fill out a form that basically gives them the rules on what they can and can’t do. On the back of the form we photocopy their I.D. so we know who they are, and then they have to be enrolled in a class, and the equipment they take out has to be related to the class they are taking.”

Santiago said van Reingold was initially charged with a felony for the Canon U.S.A., Inc. theft, but the original complaint was amended after he plead to a misdemeanor as part of the negotiated plea.

He said van Reingold plead to one misdemeanor count of grand theft and was sentenced with three years summary probation and 250 hours of community service on October 26, 2017. van Reingold entered a no contest plea to the charges, and the case concerning the Canon U.S.A., Inc. theft is now complete, according to DA Media Relations records.

The Pierce College Media Arts equipment case is still under investigation and the missing equipment has not yet been returned by police.

*Correction: The article has been corrected to accurately reflect the spelling of van Reingold