Four Hofstra University basketball players took advantage of their campus prestige to gain access to dorm rooms and steal more than $10,000 in high-end electronics -- and ultimately a victimized student helped bring down their theft ring, police said.
The hoops stars sold the stolen goods to pawnshops, fellow students and through Craigslist, then used the proceeds to buy clothing and off-campus meals, said Det. Lt. Ray Cote, commanding officer of the Nassau police department's Third Squad.
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"They were using this money that they gained to lead a more lavish lifestyle," Cote said. "They're prominent figures on campus, being athletes. And because of their social status they would have access to dorm rooms and they would get into areas, visiting one person perhaps and while in that area access a room that was unoccupied and take items."
The four players -- Shaquille Stokes, 20, Kentrell Washington, 18, Jimmy Hall Jr., 18, and Dallas Anglin, 18, were involved in the string of thefts between Oct. 4 and Nov. 5, stealing cash, a Sony laptop, headphones, three MacBook Pros, an Apple iPod, two Apple iPads and an Apple iPod Touch, police said.
Cote said investigators believe the players committed other burglaries -- and authorities expect more students to come forward to report additional thefts in the coming days.
"All four young men . . . had access to many public areas throughout the campus," Cote said. "They knew what they were doing. They planned certain things. But a lot of them were crimes of opportunity."
The crime ring began to crumble Tuesday, police said, when a female Hofstra student whose iPad was stolen earlier this month logged into the gadget's internal locator program and found it registered to a new owner: Shaquille Stokes. She reported her discovery to police, who used the players' dormitory key card records and campus sign-in sheets to retrace their crime spree and link them to the thefts, Cote said.
"As students move around campus, they swipe a student ID card to travel through locked doorways," Cote said. "We were able to categorize cases with the movement of the students, and in cases where we found things were missing, we saw a pattern of people being in a place where things had gone missing."
The players all made statements acknowledging involvement in the crimes, court records show. They pleaded not guilty at their arraignments Friday. The university suspended the four from the team and the school pending the outcome of the case.
With Matthew Chayes