Campus police urge vigilance, responsibility as summer begins

A robbery that occurred during the first weekend of summer was fresh in Tina Wu’s mind when she considered her security on campus as a summer school student.

“I don’t really feel safe because I live over in that area,” Wu, sophomore in FAA, said, referring to the Northeastern region of campus where the victim was approached early Sunday morning.

Chief of University police Barbara O’Connor warned in a mass e-mail sent to the student body Monday morning that the incident, which is still under investigation, “poses a continuing risk to students and employees of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.”

Wu said that she did not experience any threats to her safety while living on campus last summer, but she was concerned for the next three months.

Lt. Skip Frost, patrol division commander for campus police said that the force will have the same amount of presence during June and July that they deploy during the other months of the school year.

“We are a full time operation and while we understand that some students leave and Campustown may not be as congested during the summer we are still looking for every opportunity to keep people safe,” Frost said.

Some students said that the smaller student population increased their sense of security during the summer.

“I feel safer because there are less people here,” said Phil Bruins, a senior in LAS.

Recent graduate Chris Desouza said he was spending his last summer on campus under the belief that “when there are less people here, less stuff can go wrong.”

Desouza also said that because he didn’t go out to campus bars that frequently, he felt he was safe.

Campus police are reminding students that increased alcohol intake can be a major factor in vulnerability to crime.

“As much as people don’t like to hear it, you put yourself in great danger if you overconsume alcohol to the point where you are not aware of your surroundings,” Frost said.

The Student Patrol, who often keep an eye on the bar scene won’t be in operation during the summer term.

The force of students who usually operate as extra eyes and ears for the campus police been released for the summer.

Frost said summer term students need to be responsible for looking out for themselves and others. “Check in with people on campus and make sure you know where your roommate is or is going,” he said.

According to Champaign police spokesperson Rene Dunn, it is students who are leaving their apartments behind to return home for the summer, that are running a security risk. Dunn said the Champaign police department put out vacation-type press releases when students began leaving in early May to remind them to take all their valuables home with them.

Lt. Frost echoed this sentiment. “Burglars are very adept at figuring out how to take advantage of an empty apartment,” he said. “For those who maintain their residences during the summer, it is a good idea to have somebody sublet from you.”

Crime statistics from last year reveal that over a quarter of all reported burglaries occurred in the month of May.

Reporting crimes is an essential element of maintaining a safe campus environment, Frost said.

“If something doesn’t look right, taste right, smell right, call us,” he said.

“People are very reluctant to call the police. If you are unsure about something, call us.”