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For Dining Services Director William Canney, it must seem like a herd of mules leave his dining halls every day. Mules, the historical pack animal of choice for smugglers of guns, heroin and grenades, probably would not fit through Stouffer's slim doors. But enough silverware and dishes were stolen from Dining Services last year – $150,000 worth – to make it feel like a parade of burros makes a daily sojourn out of the dining halls laden with contraband coffee mugs, salt shakers and teaspoons. "I bet most students have a few table settings of our silverware," Canney said yesterday, adding that student theft has gotten worse since he first arrived at the University. "When I first came here in 1975, we used to use a ratio that for every customer we would order double the amount of china," Canney said. Now the ration now stands at six to one and accounts for 1.4 percent of the total budget, he said. The cost of replacing stolen diningware is passed onto the students themselves, many of whom complain that meal costs are too high. But such statistics don't appear out of the ordinary for a student body which often amuses itself with the pilfering of plates and putty-colored pepper shakers. Wharton senior Marc Horer related a story about how he assembled his "Secret Santa" gift freshman year. The choice? Three sets of Stouffer diningware, of course. "I got three of everything," Horer said. "Three trays, three bowls, three glasses, three sets of shakers." "Everybody loved it," said Horer. He added, though, that stealing the trays was difficult. "I got a big back pack and had two friends walk in front of me." Canney said Dining Services has not yet developed a sensible way to combat theft. He said he thought about installing lockers for students' bags, but it proved too costly. So Canney is hoping to rely on a "level of trust" to keep the forks and bowls where they belong. That doesn't appear to be happening. "Each fraternity is outfitted with flatware and silverware and cups from Stouffer," said College junior Roy Katzovicz. "Every winter and spring you can see freshmen moving out in herds with copious amounts of the stuff," Katzovicz said. He even said he and a friend stole employees' hats during their freshman year. "We just took them when they put them down," Katzovicz said. "We had a whole collection by the end of the year." Canney said Dining Services is not intent on enacting "Gestapo-like" tactics to save its eating implements. But if an employee does catch a student in the act of thievery, the student will be asked to "put it back" and will be reminded of the policy which restricts students from removing more than a piece of fruit or ice cream cone from the confines of a dining hall.

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