Housing Employee Fired After Sting Operation Caught Him Stealing $20

There was a hidden camera, a planted $20, and a fake maintenance request. In an move straight out of the movies, Detective Jay Perault of Campus Police organized a sting operation on Oct. 13 at Tang Hall to catch a housing employee suspected of multiple thefts.

A long-time Tang resident in the School of Engineering, who asked to remain anonymous, said his room was used for the sting. Recently, he said, residents had started to notice things disappearing in the building. On Oct. 12, he said he was approached by the Tang house manager, Michael Collins, who asked for his cooperation, his room, and some cash.

The next day, the police set up a hidden camera in his room. They took $49 from his wallet, photocopied the bills and marked them, and laid the money in plain sight on the table. The police then put in a fake work order. They said the air conditioner was broken.

The suspect employee came up to the resident’s room, and pocketed a $20 bill on his way out. The camera caught it all on tape.

The resident said MIT fired the employee. It is unclear whether the employee will be charged, or when he will be charged.

Perault declined to comment on state of the case, but acknowledged that he led the operation. Collins also declined to comment.

The resident had kudos for the police. “The situation was handled very well by the house manager and Detective Perault,” he said. “It was done quietly and cleanly, in 24 hours.”

He reminds students that most housing employees are good people. “Residents cannot lose confidence in their staff — a majority of [the housing staff] are wonderful,” he said. “I did what anyone would have and should have done. We have a community at MIT and community policing is one of the ways to preserve it.”