By J. Ferguson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Students fail to realize that there is a compromise between safety and convenience, according to a local crime prevention authority.
Hector Reyes, a Tucson Police Department crime prevention officer, says students make easy targets for thieves because many do not believe they are putting themselves at risk by simply leaving a window cracked open or leaving the door unlocked while they are home.
"Its a shame," Reyes said. "College students just don't think it will ever happen to them."
Reyes said students can protect themselves by installing a few inexpensive locks and by trusting their gut instinct.
Reyes said students living off campus should never leave their doors unlocked or their windows open.
"They (the criminals) look for the easiest way in," he says.
Students should always use a deadbolt if they have one, since a simple well-placed kick could easily get through a door without a locked deadbolt, he says.
Students who leave their windows open for their swamp coolers, or just to enjoy a cool breeze, should consider buying anti-slide and anti-lift devices for their windows, Reyes said. These devices allow a slight crack to maintain air circulation, but prevent thieves from lifting it high enough to crawl in.
A representative from a local hardware store said these devices cost a couple of dollars and take a few minutes to install with the proper tools.
For students with casement windows, which crank out rather than slide up, removing the crank is a good deterrent, Reyes said.
Reyes asked students to make sure their address is visible on the house or apartment in case of an emergency.
As for car alarms, Reyes says many thieves ignore the sound they emit, thus defeating their effectiveness.
For both bikes and cars, Reyes suggests using a quality locking device. The crime prevention officer said quality locks are a effective visible deterrent to crime.
"Most (car) thieves are armed with just a screwdriver," Reyes says.
Sgt. Brian Seastone of the University of Arizona Police Department recommended that students protect their bikes on campus by registering them at the parking and transportation office. The registration contains all vital information for the bike, including its serial number, which would help police identify the bike if it ever was stolen.
Seastone also suggests decorating the bike, making it unique. This bike would be easier to identify, and less likely a target for thieves.
"Limit your losses, consider carrying wearing a fanny pack," Reyes says. "Try not to keep large amounts of cash on you and avoid wearing a lot of expensive jewelry."
Seastone asked students to never leave a backpack or purse unattended, as it is an easy target, regardless of its contents.
Students living in residence halls should use a laundry marker to mark their clothes, compact discs and other small valuables, since many thefts involve small, personal items rather than televisions and large stereos, Seastone said.
Seastone stressed that students who have late classes should try to stay in groups and keep within well-lit areas while walking home. He also said that students can get a ride home by calling the Associated Students Escort Service at 621-SAFE.
The service runs Sunday through Thursday from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
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