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UWPD: Use common sense to foil thieves

December 15, 2009 By John Lucas

UW-Madison students, faculty and staff can help prevent burglaries and thefts during finals and the upcoming winter break by using common sense and taking simple security precautions.

The University Police Department and Madison Police Department agree that thieves target apartments, dorms and offices during break when many members of the campus community travel home for the holidays or leave town for vacation.

“Things can get a little chaotic with finals and the holidays coming up,” says Dean of Students Lori Berquam. “Take a second, catch your breath and take a good look around to make sure everything is secure before you leave.”

Since thefts and burglaries are “crimes of opportunity,” common sense can help stop criminals. Some useful safety tips include:

— During finals, don’t leave valuable personal items unattended in libraries, computer labs, the Union or other public spaces.

— Lock apartment and office doors and windows before leaving for the holidays.

— Burglars frequently target iPods, video-game consoles, laptops, bikes, jewelry, video games, bikes, stereos and televisions. Take small valuables with you when you leave.

— Draw curtains and shades and set a timer for lamps.

— Temporarily stop mail and newspaper delivery.

— Let a landlord, property owner or co-worker know how long you’ll be gone and how you can be reached in the event of a problem.

— Record serial numbers for expensive items, such as DVD players and bikes. Property can be also be engraved with a driver’s license number. Engravers can be checked out at the central library branch. Victims are far more likely to recover stolen property if items are engraved.

— If you own a scooter, remember that it cannot be stored inside a university residence hall. Make sure to use an external locking device around a tire to prevent theft.

— To help prevent the risk of accidental fire, make sure to unplug large electrical appliances, including computers, stereos or microwaves.

If you have security questions, call UWPD, 264-COPS or visit or

In an emergency, call 911.