Agora Café increasing security, raising funds following $685 theft

Agora Café is planning to increase their security after a break-in that occurred during Easter Weekend.

On Tuesday, April 7, Agora Café's finance manager came in for her shift after the long weekend. Upon entering the organic cafe in the basement of Macmillan Building, she discovered that the all the doors were unlocked and that the locks on the lockers were missing. A total of $685 was stolen from the restaurant.

According to Katie Mack, general manager of Agora Café, two out of the four lockers contained money. One had the daily cash flow of $100 while the other had envelopes with $500 of extra funds to which only the finance manager has access. The thief also took $60 from the cash exchange, but did not touch the cash register or the tip jar.

"The total money that was stolen was $685, although, unusually, they left our tip jar," said Mack. "We had a bunch of change in it, I guess they didn’t want the change."

After they discovered the break-in, Agora's staff called Campus Security and the RCMP. Mack also said that the RCMP found evidence of forced entry, with crowbar marks on the latch of the door.

Upon recommendations from the RCMP, the staff is considering installing a deadbolt and security cameras. They are also no longer storing money in the lockers.

"That was the big thing that the RCMP told us that they wanted us to do, to make sure just to deter people from trying this again and making the café itself more safe for our volunteers again," said Mack. "Knowing that it can be easily broken into is kind of scary."

Stephanie Goh, Agora's other general manager, said that the café's deficit budget will ensure that the operational costs are covered, but the loss has still been a setback for the organic café.

"We're a non-for-profit, so all of the workers are students and volunteers, so all of the money we make just goes towards things like operations and the supplies that we order for our function of the café," said Goh.

Both Mack and Goh suspect the break-in to be an inside job, as someone would need to be very familiar with the café's backroom and know that the money was stored in the lockers.

"We think that it was either a volunteer with us or someone that knew the café very well," said Mack. "These are the only people that could have broken in and would have left the cash register untouched."

Agora has a total of over 70 volunteers working at the cafe throughout the year. During the month before the break-in, $20 would also consistently go missing from the daily revenue twice a week and had stopped once the staff changed the locks on the finance locker.

Barry Eccleton, director of Campus Security, confirmed that a break-in had occurred and that the RCMP were looking into the investigation.

"It was discovered on Tuesday morning when the staff returned," said Eccleton. "There were some lockers that were broken into and an amount of cash that went missing."

Mack also said that Agora's staff have started a GoFundme campaign to recuperate some of the losses and have already raised over $400 in funds, mostly from members of the Agora community.