Threat of campus thefts causes Des Moines parents concern over students’ possessions
While parents are packing their kids off to college, they may be leaving an important item off their checklists: A plan to protect their son or daughter’s personal property – which may include big-ticket items such as smart phones, tablets, gaming systems and more.
Chris Loos, manager at Signal 88 Security and former security director at three collegiate campuses, said many parents overlook this part of college preparation because their own college experience was far less complex. Twenty or more years ago, the biggest concerns were typically the amount of cash college students were carrying or securing the bike they rode to class.
In order to educate parents on what they can do to ensure the safety of their child’s property, Signal 88 Security of Des Moines has developed the Campus Crime Prevention program. Free resources, including safety tips and access to crime stats from colleges and universities around the country, are available at www.signal88.com/campuscrimeprevention.aspx.
According to Signal 88’s Loos, electronics are the most commonly stolen property on college campuses. From a smaller device like a cell phone to larger items such as flat-screen televisions, students are putting themselves at risk by bringing expensive gadgets to their on-campus experience. While keeping up with the latest technology may be part of today’s youth culture, protecting these valuables is part of the responsibility that comes with ownership.
“Crimes of opportunity are a threat to college students who live on campus,” said Loos. “If you leave the door to your residence hall room unlocked, you’re giving a thief the opportunity to strike. Even if you’re only going down the hall to use the restroom or brush your teeth, a few minutes is all it takes for someone who has been watching your room steal something of value.
“Car doors are a similar scenario,” Loos said. “If you leave your iPod or computer in the passenger seat or on the console but forget to lock the doors, you’re providing a thief with the perfect opportunity to steal.”
In addition, with many young people managing everything from their schedules to their bank accounts through mobile devices, the risk for a more significant crime can be serious – even if only a relatively minor theft has occurred.
“Having expensive electronics such as cell phones, tablets and laptop computers is only the beginning,” said Tim Harms, owner of the Signal 88 office serving Des Moines. “If your son or daughter is one of millions of people who bank electronically or keep account information handy at the touch of an app, he or she could be unintentionally putting themselves at risk for becoming victim of a far more serious crime.”
The Campus Crime Prevention program is available to help parents emphasize the importance of diligent security practices to college students. For knowledge of the types of crimes that have been committed at or in the vicinity of a particular college or university, websites such as www.crimereports.com provide a detailed report on criminal activity in the area.
Parents should also encourage their son or daughter to find out if their campus offers barcode or serial number tracking of electronic devices. At a minimum, students should log serial numbers themselves; doing so will allow for easier tracking if a theft occurs. Also, consider renters insurance for college students. Many personal belongings may not be covered by a homeowners’ policy, and purchasing additional coverage to protect students’ possessions could save money in the event of an incident.
In addition, campus facilities are required to maintain a public log of all crimes reported to them. The log is required to have the most recent 60 days’ worth of information. Information in the log older than 60 days must be made available within two business days.
“While college may traditionally be a carefree time, it’s not an excuse to take personal security lightly,” said Harms. “We want to do our part to make sure students aren’t putting their stuff – or worse, themselves – at unnecessary risk.”
The Campus Crime Prevention program will be featured in more than 70 communities around the country via the Signal 88 Security franchise network. For additional information about Signal 88 Security, visit www.signal88.com.