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Burglaries on campus decline over last 3 years

Chris Poche / Design editor

Burglaries have been the top reported on-campus crime in the past three years, but the number of burglaries in that same time-frame has declined, as shown by the campus security report.

A burglary is the act of taking one’s property from a prohibited location. Breaking and entering, when one enters a prohibited location without taking anything, also accounts for burglaries tallied in past campus security reports, according to deputy chief Richard Morman.

Of the 147 burglaries reported on-campus last year, 22 were breaking and entering and 46 occurred in resident halls, according to the report. Remaining reports occurred in on-campus facilities such as staff offices or lecture halls and the medical center.

Despite burglaries being the highest reported crime on-campus, burglary reports have declined by nearly 20 reports every year for the last three years and have been on a sharp decline so far in 2011, leaving Morman “shocked.”

In 2008, there were 197 reported burglaries on campus. In 2009, there were 178 burglaries on campus.

Morman recognized university police being “proactive” in burglary prevention as a factor in the decline of burglaries. He added the department stresses for students not to allow strangers to “tailgate in behind them” into resident halls.

Cheryl Lyons, director of residence life, said residence hall staff play a role in burglary prevention as well and are trained by university police to do so.

Lyons said resident assistants regularly remind residents to lock their doors and remind them not to allow people to follow them into halls.

“Those are the two main things we are always going to stress,” she said. “It takes everybody cooperating together for it to work.”

Margaret Wingenfeld, a graduate student in education and staff assistant at Buckeye Village, said she frequently sends emails to her residents providing tips on burglary preventions. Wingenfeld reminds residents to shut and lock their windows and doors and keep their curtains drawn.

“(Burglars) are tempted by that they see, so don’t let them see,” she said.

Wingenfeld said valuables are stolen every break from burglars climbing through windows. She suggests for residents not to post on Facebook they are going out of town or leaving their apartment.

“Get to know your neighbors because if you know your neighbors and they know you, they’re going to be watching out for you,” Wingenfeld added. “Hopefully in a good way.”

Lyons advises students living on- and off-campus to have homeowner’s and rental insurance in case their property is stolen. She suggests recording the serial numbers of valuables.

“If you get something stolen from you and you’re lucky enough to have it recovered, you have to prove that’s yours … if you don’t mark your valuables there’s no way to show it’s yours,” said Patrick Maughan, OSU director of risk and emergency management.

Maughan suggested students take pictures of their valuables and take advantage of the UV/ID project through Neighborhood Services and Collaboration (previously named off-campus student services). The project provides pens with invisible ink that can only be read under a black light for students to mark their valuables without scratching.

These pens are available in the Neighborhood Services Collaboration office at the Ohio Union, in resident halls and from the university police division.

Students, faculty and staff can also record their valuables in an online database provided by the Registry of Personal Property for proof of ownership in case they become victim to a burglary.

Maughan said even though no one wants to be a crime victim, victims are better off being subject to property crime rather than personal injury. If faced with a burglar in your residence, “None of your stuff is worth risking your life over, but you have to have a personal decision,” Maughan said.

He added residents should “go through the motions ahead of time” and if they think they would fight, perhaps enroll in self-defense classes.

Lyons said it is important to always file a report with police.

“The number one thing is to call and make a police report,” Lyons said. “Even if you can’t get (your property) back, police will have attention toward patterns.”

Popular burglarized items are backpacks, laptops, cell phones, iPods, iPads, mostly electronics and anything easy to carry, Morman said. He added the majority of on-campus burglaries take place during the academic year, from the beginning of Autumn Quarter to the end of spring.

“It’s when most of the people are here,” Mormon said. “So it’s when most of the victims are here.”

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