NIU School of Art officials said they are delighted to get back 110 items stolen from the building by a former art student.
Police closed the files on three burglaries to the building’s third floor when Richard E. Wanke, 30, Cherry Valley, was arrested Oct. 25 by Rockford Police.
The almost $22,000 in art department equipment included a skill saw, two computers, a video tape recorder and 54 books on computers.
School officials didn’t think they could replace all the stolen items. “It’s wonderful to have it all back. It was a real windfall,” said Richard Carp, NIU School of Art chairman.
One of the hardest-hit areas within the school was interior architecture. Instructor Robert Vodick said he was delighted to get a computed, and several books on computers back. Vodick said Wanke also stole his personal computer disks, and one had a copy of his thesis on it.
Getting the equipment back “was quite a relief. I figured it was long gone until the police called. The nice thing about it was that the equipment was in good condition,” Vodick said.
Apparently, no one in the building suspected Wanke. “We did think it was someone who was a regular in the building and who had access to it,” Vodick said.
UP Sgt. Ralph Taylor said two other art building burglaries might be solved soon. Wanke admitted to stealing a bench grinder and some lamps from the building, but the items haven’t been returned to NIU yet.
“The bench grinder was at the DeKalb Police Department with the stuff stolen from Ace Hardware. We haven’t found the lamps yet. The Rockford Police may still have them,” Taylor said.