Toilet paper caper

Steve Hill

Illustration by Steve Hill | TIMES STAFF

San Jose City College is paying approximately $4,000 per year to replace toilet paper rolls stolen from campus restrooms.

“We pay about $125 per week to replace stolen toilet paper during the semester,” Facilities Manager Joe Andrade said.

Each case of toilet paper costs $25.56, and there are 12 jumbo rolls per case.  Approximately five cases, or 60 rolls of toilet paper, are stolen on campus each week.

Andrade said he often receives word from custodians that say they returned to a recently restocked restroom within 15 to 20 minutes to find that rolls were missing.

Custodian Oscar Ramirez wrote in a text message on Friday that more thefts had occurred.

“There were 10 new rolls of toilet paper stolen from GE building, five in the second floor and five in the first floor,” Ramirez wrote.

Andrade said there is not enough manpower to police all the restrooms, and no one has been seen or caught stealing. Some restrooms will therefore remain locked in certain areas of the campus.

“We know there are not classes going on in certain parts of the campus, so we just shut down the bathrooms,” Andrade said. “There was one Friday where we had 24 rolls missing in one day. After that happened, I said, ‘OK, we’re going to start shutting down certain areas, certain bathrooms and just keep them locked.’”

There are also plans to replace the current dispensers, which are easily unlocked, with a more secure model by the fall semester.

“Our plan … is to go with a sturdier toilet paper dispenser,” Andrade said. “We’re looking to go with an actual key dispenser with a locking mechanism where the cover overlaps.”

Andrade said the campus police are aware of the thefts, but despite the jumbo size of the rolls, no one has been apprehended.

“We have told the police in past instances, and they’ve done some preventative measures,” Andrade said. “It was a few years back when this was happening. I think they isolated it down to a certain area of the campus, and they had an officer in the area.”

The individual rolls are huge and not easily concealed, but no one has been seen stealing them. Andrade said he is sure the toilet paper is being stolen, though.

“We know it’s missing,” Andrade said. “There is a core. When the toilet paper runs out, the core stays behind. When it’s missing, the core is gone. That’s how we know.”

Efforts to reach campus police for comments were unsuccessful.