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BPD offers tips on avoiding spring break theft

As students begin to pack up their belongings and head out for spring break, they sometimes forget one key step: locking the door behind them.

Bloomington Police Department Capt. Steve Kellams said 31 percent of all residential burglaries reported so far in 2018 involved an unlocked door or window or no force being used.

More than 49 percent of theft from vehicles reported in 2018 involved unlocked cars or no force being used.

Kellams said it is especially important to lock up items to reduce the chance for crimes of opportunity so BPD can spend more of its time on organized theft. Crimes of opportunity include things like a person walking through an unlocked door to take something.

“If we can eliminate all of that white noise, then we can really focus our intervention tactics on trying to stop people who are victimizing students in Bloomington,” he said.

He said the department has spent years trying to get this message across to students.

Though there were only nine residential burglaries reported to BPD during IU’s spring break in 2016 and six in 2017, Kellams credits these low numbers to efforts by BPD to increase patrols while students are gone. 

He also said the department works with apartment complexes to make sure they have enough security during breaks.

Only one theft from a building was reported to the IU Police Department over spring break 2017, but IUPD Capt. Craig Munroe said students should be mindful of leaving items such as bikes on campus.

One theft and one burglary were reported to IUPD over spring break 2016, and three thefts were reported over spring break 2015.

Munroe said students should take any valuables out of their dorm rooms over break.

University staff will be checking rooms over break to ensure there aren't any dangerous items such as lit candles in them, Munroe said, and will report any illegal items they see to IUPD.

He said the dorms are pretty secure, but burglaries of fraternity and sorority houses increase over long breaks.

"The greek houses seem to be a target," he said.

BPD Lt. John Kovach said keeping valuables out of plain sight is a smart decision when heading into spring break. He said electronics such as gaming systems and TVs are large draws for theft.

“Take it home, put it in a drawer," he said. "Just don’t leave it out."

Munroe said students who live in houses should consider leaving some lights on in their homes and double-checking that windows are locked before they leave for break.

Kovach recommended parking cars under streetlights or in other publicly visible areas and making sure valuables are not visible through windows. He said purses and cash should never be left in plain sight in a car.

“Take a little extra effort and time to secure your stuff,” he said.

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