Common safety tips college students overlook

The world of apartment living brings a whole new list of responsibilities: cooking, cleaning and paying the dreaded monthly bills. At the top of this list falls one responsibility students may sometimes forget: safety.

The steps toward having a safe apartment experience are not difficult to take, but are many times overlooked.

“Lock your doors and your windows,” said Skip Frost, captain of operations for the University police department. “That seems very common, but I can tell you over years and years of experience it’s a very common practice not to lock doors and windows when you’re out.”

Locking windows and doors seems obvious when leaving the apartment, but it’s also very important to always keep the doors locked even when students are home.

“We have heard of people who have had problems where somebody just decides to walk through the apartment building and check all the doors to see which one is open,” said Nancy Dietrich, tenant union housing counselor. “They will just walk right in.”

Dietrich knows this is something that is often overlooked.

“Especially when students are in a ‘locked building,’ where the entrance door is locked, students may think ‘oh I can keep my door unlocked,’” she said. “I mean, anybody could just prop that door open. That’s not a really good tactic for safety. Always keep your door locked when you’re there.”

Even with these basic steps to keeping a safe apartment, mistakes and incidents do happen. In that case, Captain Frost has prevention advice to students.

“(Write) down for the police all the serial numbers of your valuables,” he said. “You would be surprised how many people get victimized, and they have no idea what kind of computer it is and what the serial number is.”

The same goes for televisions, stereos, iPods, etc. It’s always a good idea to keep a list of that information somewhere, and if you do get robbed, the police at least know what they are looking for. Frost also recommends taking valuables out of the apartment during breaks or weekends home.

It’s important to be smart about answering the door as well. According to Frost, a lot of students get victimized without even knowing it.

“If somebody knocks on your door and you answer your door, you may have just dealt with what we call a daylight burglar,” he said. “That is somebody who is setting you up, is taking a look inside your apartment.”

This person knocking on the door is most likely a criminal. They are not at the wrong apartment, and they are probably just knocking on doors either see what you have in the apartment, or if you don’t answer the door and it’s open, they’ll just help themselves.

Another important aspect of apartment safety is keeping yourself aware of surroundings at night when entering and leaving the apartment. While many parts of campus are safely lit, it can be hard to see where a potential criminal might be lurking. This situation became all too real for Caroline Yoo, junior in LAS. Yoo was coming home after a meeting when she was attacked from behind while she was trying to enter her apartment.

“I was coming home not really that late, probably close to 9,” she said. “As soon as I put my keys in door, I was hit in the back of the head.”

Yoo was confused at first, thinking somebody was pulling a prank on her, but she soon realized this was no joke.

“My head kind of hurt, and I turned around and it was some man I had never seen before,” she said. “We just looked at each other, and when I started to comprehend what was happening, I pushed him and yelled at him and then he turned around and started to walk away.”

Fortunately, Yoo was okay and nothing was taken from her, but what this attacker was after will always be unclear.

“It was kind of a wake-up call, I mean it wasn’t that late,” Yoo said. “Even if you walk home with somebody and you live around the corner, people think they will be okay. But I think it’s important to watch somebody get into their apartment. Definitely be aware of your surroundings.”

Living in an apartment brings students a feeling of independence, but it is always important to keep safety in mind.