Theft still big on campus

 

After a semester of stolen bikes and laptops, crime prevention coordinator for the UVM Police, Officer Sue Roberts, confirmed that theft is huge on campus.

About half a dozen laptops were stolen from the library last November and bike theft was especially prevalent at the beginning of the fall semester, a past Cynic article stated.

Roberts said that bikes and laptops are not the only things students should be worried about getting stolen.

Items from their cars and rooms, iPods, wallets and credit cards are all common possessions stolen at the University, she said.

“It’s not just the students,” Roberts said. “It’s our faculty and staff because all of our buildings are unlocked during the day, so we really need to take those safe guards.”

There is almost never any forced entry with these cases because office and bedroom doors are simply left unlocked for intruders to walk right in, she said.

“It’s never blaming the person who gets victimized, but we do make it very very easy to have our residence room burglarized,” Roberts said.

An educational program was introduced a while back in which during the day, officers would check every door in a residential hall to see if it was locked, Roberts said. If it was not, they would lock it with a master key and slip a note under the door, warning the student of the risks of leaving a door unlocked.

“It didn’t really seem to make a difference,” she said. “We got a lot of calls of students saying, ‘I’m locked out, my keys are in the room.'”

Students are usually pretty vigilant in protecting their person and their property, but when they come to UVM, they drop their guard, Roberts said.

“They come to Vermont and they’re like, ‘OK cows, Ben and Jerry’s, maple syrup—no crime,'” she said.

Students feel safe because of the tight-knit community, but the thieves are not always friends—they are friends of friends, Roberts said.

There are lots of people that don’t appear out of place, but are actually there to steal everything they can, and everyone carries backpacks, which Roberts said is the perfect way for thieves to steal from college students.

“Go in with an empty backpack and you walk out with a full one and no one really notices,” she said. “We make it very easy to be preyed upon.”

First-year Brandon Egan said that his R.A. warned him of the dangers of theft when last semester, a strange man would walk into Buckham Hall and steal directly from students’ rooms.

If he forgot to lock his door, Egan would quickly return to lock it so that he would not feel uneasy during his next class.

“I always lock my door because I wouldn’t feel like dealing with the situation if things were stolen,” Egan said.

Roberts said that her uniform often acts as a barrier, but wanted to make clear that officers are there to help students and prevent crime on campus.

“Yes we do bust parties, yes we do confiscate alcohol and marijuana and other sorts of drugs, but our focus is the safety aspect,” she said.

Suggestions to mitigate theft from Officer Sue Roberts:

  • Lock your doors
  • Lock laptops and bikes
  • Don’t prop doors
  • Don’t let strangers into residential halls
  • Record serial numbers of pricey electronics
  • Be aware of your environment