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NDSP says thefts rise with finals

Kara Coyle | Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) said there is an increase in thefts before students go on break.

Students’ stress levels generally increase at this time and they are less prone to pay attention to their belongings, Keri Kei Shibata, an NDSP officer said.

“The bad guys in town know that students at this time are distracted,” she said. “Keep an eye on your property and make sure you are keeping it with you.”

Shibata discussed the different safety measures that students should be aware of during Christmas vacation at a Winter Break Safety Forum sponsored by Student Government on Tuesday.

The University is offering a property storage facility for off-campus students in Hammes-Mowbray Hall, a winter vehicle storage unit and a bike storage unit.

“These are simple things that anyone can do that won’t take a lot of time,” she said. “Be prepared. Do the little things.”

Shibata also advised students to register their property. This enables police officers to recover student’s property and return it with greater ease.

Her main concern, however, is for student’s personal safety.

“The most important thing I can say is to always be alert of your surroundings,” she said.

Patrick Hechlinski, a crime prevention specialist for the South Bend Police Department, also spoke about what precautions off-campus students can do to stay alert.

Hechlinski advised students to always report a crime, even if it’s minor.

“If you are a victim of a crime, be sure to report it,” he said. Doing so enables the police department to be more aware of areas where extra security is needed.

Hechlinski also recommended that students be aware of automobile and advised that anything of value, such as iPods and phone chargers be removed from cars.

“Put yourself in the shoes of the bad guys,” he said. If the object is of value and visible in a car, there is a higher rate of larceny.

Hechlinski also stressed the importance of being alert and proactive about safety.

“Very importantly, even if you are at home, keep your doors locked,” he said.

He said students should be alert even when putting trash in outdoor trashcans. Putting a television box in a visable waste container indicates that there are items of value within the house, he said.

The South Bend Police Department also offers two free programs to increase safety, Hechlinski said. The Student Watch Program is an alert system made exclusively for Notre Dame students. Through it, students are alerted via e-mail about any crime that can affect them within the area. The South Bend Police Department also offers free home security surveys where security recommendations are made for off campus homes.

Dominic Zultanski, a representative from Gargoyle Preferred Investigative Services, discussed crime on the Northeast side of the city specifically.

He advised that students place everything of value in a room with closed blinds so that it is out of sight while the house is empty over Christmas break.