Take a Seat – But Not a Chair

The Union contends with stolen Terrace furniture.

This stolen Terrace chair was returned to the Union 31 years later. Jake Lepper

Earlier this year, Gayle Litteral ’92 arrived at the UW Police Department with a weathered Terrace chair and a confession. She informed UWPD sergeant Jake Lepper ’16 that she stole it from the Memorial Union Terrace during her graduation weekend. Thirty-one years later, to set an example for her kids, she decided to return the yellow chair. Its rust and patina corroborated the timeline.

“It’s never too late to do the right thing,” UWPD posted on social media.

Unfortunately for the Wisconsin Union, stolen furniture is a crime that spans generations. In 2022, UWPD received a tip about a sunburst chair spotted in a garage in Verona, Wisconsin. Police recovered the chair, which was stolen in 1978, and issued a verbal warning to the perpetrator. For those caught in the act, fines can exceed $400. The Union budgets for around 60 new chairs per year, which cover routine replacements as well as thefts. It also employs overnight security and surveillance cameras to deter — and, on occasion, confront — would-be thieves.

During summer 2014, the Union reported a loss of 250 chairs — a quarter of its Terrace seating at the time — and partnered with UWPD on a formal retrieval program.

Law-abiding Badgers can purchase an official sunburst chair in red or white from the Terrace Store for just under $500. Green, yellow, and orange chairs are not for sale. And if you happen to possess one of those, you can return it, according to UWPD, with “no questions asked.”

Published in the Winter 2023 issue


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