It has been happening for quite some time now. One here, one there. A fork, missing in the daily count-up. A salad bowl, gone from the deli station. A cleaver, vanished from the meat-cutting station. And cup after cup, disappearing without a trace… until now. Missing
A break in the case has revealed that these phenomena are all connected.
“I received an anonymous tip from investigative reporter September Symens,” junior Matt Anderson said. Symens and Anderson worked together on an expose earlier in the school year. At the time that this article was being written, back in January, Anderson believed that the dishes were being taken by students who wished to eat in their dorm rooms and were simply too lazy to return their used dishes.
Now, Anderson has discovered that his original hunch was incorrect; the culprit is not a group of multiple, slothful thieves committing crimes of indifference. No, instead it is one culprit, referred to only as “The Dish Bandit” committing a crime on which he has deliberated for some time now.
“After working with Anderson in the winter, I didn’t feel like I’d gotten to the bottom of the case,” Symens explained. “I knew we were missing something. I knew there was more to it than what we were getting, but I just couldn’t figure out what.”
Symens did some plotting of her own. Cardboard boxes appeared in the residence halls early in March. Students were encouraged to place the stolen dishware into these boxes anonymously. These boxes are meant to be convenient for the students as well as helpful to the college in getting their stolen goods back.
What students and administrators alike did not know was that Symens rigged these boxes with hidden cameras. Anyone who put dishes into a box would be caught on tape and brought to justice. Dishes have been popping up all over campus: on the surface, the dish-collecting boxes have been a huge success.
But it was all a ruse.
“I reviewed the footage last week,” Symens said. “And only one person popped up on every single camera: Jim Bies.”
“When we confronted him, he sang like a canary,” Anderson said. Bies had been sneaking dishes out of the commons each night, building up a stockpile in his office drawers.
“When I heard about the budget cuts, I was heartbroken,” Bies said in his formal confession on Wednesday night. “I was hoping for a bonus. So I gave one to myself.” The missing dishes would have cause a hike in student fees, which Bies would have funneled directly into his pension fund.
But his secretary became suspicious. Why did Bies work late this year… every single night? Surely, it could not have been because he loved the students. No, he was hiding something.
“And so I made yet another plan,” Bies said. “I would hoard the dishes in my drawers, and then, one night, I would go all around campus, to each residence hall, and put a few dishes in each box.”
Bies hoped the appearance of these dishes would encourage administrators and students alike to believe that students were, after all, the culprits. How could you argue with that, with dishes appearing in every residence hall?
But Bies did not count on Symens.
Anderson made the arrest Wednesday night after the televised confession to Augustana president Rob Oliver.
As he led Bies to the police car, Anderson had one last thing to say: “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”
For students wishing to visit Bies in federal prison: please sign up for a slot in the Dean’s Office before April 12. On May 2, a group of students will be taken there on a field trip to chastise him, and to taunt him with forks and spoons. These utensils will be provided by the jail. Please do not try to smuggle dishes in, lest you end up there yourselves.