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A New Zealand Student Cheater Smashed Up an Office with an Axe to Steal Her Exam Back

The unnamed 23-year-old hid in a closet inside Otago University, then broke down several doors in an apparent attempt to erase evidence of her cheating.

by Wendy Syfret
Dec 1 2015, 4:00pm

Photo of the University of Otago via Wikicommons

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Last month, students across several subjects at Otago University in Dunedin, New Zealand, were asked to re-sit their end-of-year exams. It was reported that there had been issues with completed exams being stolen, but while rumors bubbled on campus the incident passed with minimal wider news coverage.

That was until this morning, when a 23-year-old woman appeared in in Auckland District Court and the bat-shit crazy truth came out.

On November 7 the woman took an exam but aroused suspicion when she repeatedly asked to go to the toilet. When staff checked the bathroom they found handwritten notes, decided she'd cheated, flagged her exam, and took it away. So later, the woman—whose name has been withheld—hid in a cleaning cupboard in the university building until everyone went home for the night.

After everyone went home for the night, she emerged from her hiding place in dark clothes, a hoodie, rubber gloves, and a balaclava. Carrying an axe, she proceeded to live out every university student's late-night Red Bull–fueled exam fantasies.

Intent on finding her paper, the woman used the axe, along with a steel bracket, to smash through wood and glass. During the spree, she stole 98 completed exam scripts across a range of subjects including dentistry, politics, English, and sports medicine. One was hers, and we assume she took the other 97 because she'd already gone to the effort of axing her way in.

Not surprisingly, smashing up a public building triggered several silent alarms—one of which was set off when she tried to lift an office door off it's hinges with a hand truck. The police spent eight hours investigating the scene, and initially reported having no leads beyond being able to conclusively say the burglar appeared to have knowledge of the building.

The university is understood to have later provided electronic data, including emails and web search history, to help the police in their investigations. The woman was arrested a few days later, and the exam papers and the clothes she was wearing during the break-in were later found dumped in Otago Harbour. The university reported that despite being recovered, the scripts were in an "unusable state."

The woman will be sentenced on February 10. In the meantime, a university spokeswoman has said they are reviewing their security systems.

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