Theft and burglary during breaks in the academic year has always been a big concern, IU Police Department Capt. Andy Stephenson said. A partnership with the Bloomington Police Department has helped efforts to curb such incidences within the last year.
“Potential thieves know student housing is unoccupied over holidays, which makes it an attractive target for them,” Stephenson said. “Our goal has been to try to put more cops from both departments out there to target this issue and catch some of these thieves in the act.”
The partnership was made specifically to target attempted burglaries and thefts during student breaks, Stephenson said. The houses immediately surrounding IU’s campus are particularly vulnerable to burglary, he said. Both departments have more officers patrolling these areas to prevent burglary attempts.
Within the last two years, burglaries reported during Thanksgiving, winter and spring breaks have dropped by 40 percent, Stephenson said. Only one report was filed through IUPD after this year’s winter break, though others were reported through BPD, he said.
“We typically see pretty big spikes in these incidents over holiday breaks,” Stephenson said. “We’ve definitely seen big improvements lately, but it still impacts students each year.”
Wisbey and her roommates were a few of these students this year. Though only jewelry and a small speaker were taken from their house, all five of the residents were nervous about returning to live there at first, Wisbey’s roommate senior Rachel Pruim said.
“I know we’re pretty lucky, because they could have taken some really valuable things, but it still makes me pretty nervous sometimes,” Pruim said. “I double lock the door and a lot of times I leave the lights on when I leave now. The first few times I walked into the dark house by myself at the end of the day, I would get very nervous that something else could have happened.”
Campus theft during the regular school year is less common, but it is still an issue to be aware of, Stephenson said. The number of incidents during holiday breaks are dropping. Burglary and theft levels usually remain steady throughout the rest of the year.
Senior Craig Douglas experienced a break-in during his freshman year in Eigenmann Hall. Another student broke into his room while he was there in the middle of the night. He said it still influences the way he feels about leaving his house and belongings.
“After that, I became a lot more cautious, and I still don’t feel comfortable leaving my backpack or laptop in a place where anyone else could get it,” Douglas said. “I always lock my bedroom door, even though I trust my roommates and even though they’re always asking me why I do it. That was my freshman year, and I was still pretty nervous leaving the place for winter break this year.”
IUPD tries to promote ways for students to keep their residences safe over break each year before the holidays, Stephenson said. Making sure to lock up or take home commonly stolen items, such as bicycles, jewelry, cash and electronics, is the simplest way to protect against theft, he said.
“It’s something that could happen at any time during the day, like while you’re at class or at a friend’s place,” Pruim said. “It definitely makes you keep track of your things a little better.”
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