Security should be the top priority for students living in Campustown

Freshman in ACES Jeremy Pohn, left, seen with Max Voldman, freshman in LAS, top right, and Steve Buran, freshman in Business, bottom right, watch TV in their room at Illini Tower, a Private Certified Housing complex on Fourth and Chalmers streets, on Sund Erica Magda

Freshman in ACES Jeremy Pohn, left, seen with Max Voldman, freshman in LAS, top right, and Steve Buran, freshman in Business, bottom right, watch TV in their room at Illini Tower, a Private Certified Housing complex on Fourth and Chalmers streets, on Sund Erica Magda

By Stephanie Gomes

Laptops, backpacks and wallets — these are some of the most popular items stolen across campus, according to Tony Ortiz, crime prevention coordinator at the University Police Department.

“At the University of Illinois, theft is the number one crime,” Ortiz said.

Each year, he said, an average of $250,000 or more in valuables are reported stolen.

Whether living in a house or an apartment, certain security measures can be taken to prevent these crimes from happening at your home, he said. One of the first steps students should take is to secure their doors and windows.

Ortiz said students need to inspect their window and window lock.

“Double pane and triple pane provide the most security,” he said.

Ortiz added if students want more security, they can invest in a polycarbonate plastic covering for the window, which provides extra security.

“You can sleep a little bit more peacefully at night having that type of material on your window,” Ortiz said. “It makes the window harder to shatter.”

In addition, students should put thick shades on their windows and avoid keeping them open for long periods of time, he said.

“It’s nice to look outside, but realize by opening your shades, people on the street can see what you have inside,” he said.

Students should always secure the lock on their door, he added. This is something that students living in the residence halls often forget.

“You have to treat (the residence halls) like it’s your home,” he said.

In an apartment or house, students can invest in a wide-angle peep hole, he said.

“You can see the person’s head, shoulder and body when they’re at your door,” he said.

Rhea Kressman, senior in ACES, lives in an off-campus house.

“I leave at least one light downstairs on overnight,” she said. “I also compulsively check my locks before I go to bed.”

Realtors play a big part in the safety of apartments and houses.

Steve Hertel, office manager at Roland Realty, said his company uses a Primus lock system for their doors, which means a double-cut key is used on all doors.

“Someone can’t go the local hardware store and have another key made,” Hertel said. “It must be made by our company.”

The ground-level units have safety bars that come down over the doors, he said. They provide extra measure of security and prevent doors from being opened.

Hertel added that the company also checks buildings for lighting repairs seven days a week in hallways, stairs, parking garages and courtyards. He said he finds these security measures prevent criminal activity.

Ortiz said students also need to take precautions before going on spring break, a time when many incidents of theft occur.

“Now is the time to think about it before you go on spring break,” he said.

He advised students to put important documents in a secure place like a safety deposit box at a bank.

Stop newspapers and mail from coming as well, he said.

“If newspapers are accumulating by your apartment or house, it basically tells criminals that no one’s home,” Ortiz said.

There is also a 24-hour timer available to alternate the lights when you are not home, he said. These precautions give strangers the impression that someone is home.