Move-in, move-out make prime times for thieves

By Danielle Gaines

Move-in day is always a trying time. And with temperatures nearing triple digits, it can be tempting to end the misery as soon as possible. But that is not the best course of action, University police officer Gene Moore said.

“The prime time for your stuff to walk away is during move-in and move-out,” Moore said. “Don’t leave stuff on curbs. Lock vehicles. Have someone sit outside.”

Moore encouraged students who are entering the University or moving out of the residence halls for the first time to exercise common sense during the transition.

He advised students to keep their most valuable possessions out of sight and to make simple things, like locking doors, habits.

“There are simple things you can do (to protect yourself) and locking your door is the cheapest thing,” Moore said. “It only takes a few seconds.”

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
Thank you for subscribing!

Moore also warned about being too courteous.

“We are taught from birth to be polite,” he said. “So you hold the doors open at the residence halls or don’t lock your stuff up and that is not safe.”

Moore stressed that students should talk to roommates and make plans for apartment or residence hall locking practices. That way, responsibility for everyone’s possessions isn’t placed on just one person, he said.

With three police agencies serving Campustown, Moore said the first thing students should do to report theft or any other crime is to call 911. He also said police are not expecting any unusual crime situations in the coming year and police will continue warning students about the dangers of poor pedestrian safety and alcohol consumption practices.

Most thefts, assaults and batteries on campus are related to alcohol, Moore said.

According to the campus crime report released this summer, most criminal incidents occurred between 6 p.m. and 3 a.m. and on weekends. Walking in groups significantly decreases the possibility of attack, Moore said. He added that most victims of assaults and batteries are men walking alone.

“Walk in groups of two or more. Plan ahead before you go out,” Moore said.

There are alternatives to walking at night as well, such as calling SafeRides, SafeWalks, the bus or taxi systems, Moore said. Safe walking habits are a must especially at night, but should always be at the fore of students’ minds, he said.

“It is important for people to set the example,” Moore said. “Look both ways. Try to use the lights. Remember what it is like when you are the driver … put the shoe on the other foot.”

Most often, cars have the right of way in Campustown, Moore said. Even if they don’t, cars weigh 2,000 pounds and can cause significant damage, so it is best to wait.

“There will be five people waiting for the walk sign, but another five will just walk right on by,” he said. “We just don’t want to see people getting hurt.”

In the end, awareness of your surroundings is the best way to prevent all crimes, Moore said.

“Take simple precautions. You don’t have to live scared,” he said. “Little things go a long way to protect everybody, not just (yourself).”

Personal safety tips

  • Do not provide the opportunity for a crime to occur — avoid placing yourself in environments where criminals can commit crimes.
  • Always keep your doors and windows locked.
  • If possible, let a friend or roommate know where and with whom you’ll be and when you’ll be back when you go out.
  • Trust your instincts – if you feel uncomfortable about someone near you on the street, in an elevator or getting off a bus, head for a populated place or yell for help.
  • Use well-lit and busy sidewalks.
  • Avoid walking alone or walking near vacant lots, alleys, construction sites and wooded areas.
  • Learn the locations of emergency phones on campus.
  • Carry a cell phone, whistle or a personal alarm to alert people when you need help.
  • In an elevator, stand near the controls; if you feel threatened, hit the alarm and as many floor buttons as you can.
  • When you’re on a bus, sit as near the driver as possible.
  • Try to park in an area that will be well-lit and heavily traveled when you return.
  • Lock your car doors and roll up the windows completely – even if you’re only running a quick errand.
  • Drink responsibly – remember your ability to respond is diminished by the overconsumption of alcohol.
  • Stay alert at all times and call the police immediately to report suspicious activity.
  • Never leave personal property (e.g., book bags, laptop computers, etc.) unattended.
  • Put ICE (In Case of Emergency) in your cell phone, along with a name and telephone number of a loved one, to enable the emergency services to contact your family in the event of an emergency.

Source: University Police Department