U police: Students can help prevent crime

Many students do not give much thought to crime and safety issues on campus, but University officials said students can prevent common crimes.

“The number one problem is that students get very comfortable and they let their guard down,” said Wachen Anderson, Housing and Residential Life judicial affairs coordinator.

Anderson said the University is proactive in dealing with safety issues, but ultimately safety is in the hands of the students.

During move-in week and at orientation, the University gives students information on staying safe. Tips include locking doors and not letting strangers into residence halls.

“Unfortunately college campuses are breeding grounds for thieves,” Anderson said.

Theft and property damage are the most common crimes committed on campus, according to Housing and Residential Life.

“Theft is 60 percent of on-campus crime,” University police Capt. Steve Johnson said.

Thieves are everywhere, Johnson said. They lurk in places ranging from big cities to suburbs and in places such as libraries and restrooms, he said.

On campus, Johnson said, there is a comfort level that can let people put their guard down. Students are away from home for the first time and take for granted the safety and protection they might have had their entire lives.

“I’ve taken at least three reports where students got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and they go back to sleep,” Johnson said. “(Then the student wakes up from strange noises) with a stranger staring at them.”

Some students are not worried, however.

Dan Larson, a second-year student living at Sanford Hall, said he has never had a problem with on-campus safety. He said he only locks his door if both he and his roommate are leaving the floor.

“I’ve gotten to know my neighbors pretty well,” Larson said. “Besides, this is Minnesota, not New York.”

First-year student Jessie Bent said she thinks student theft victims are at fault.

“Students don’t lock their doors,” Bent said. “They leave for the weekend, and they still don’t lock their doors.”

Jamie Tiedemann, director of the Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education, said students need to take simple precautions.

“The University is like a separate city; it’s an environment where people (might not have) experienced violence (and crime).”

Tiedemann said in order to stay safe, students should be aware of their surroundings, stay in well-lit areas and always have a friend with them.

“When you’re isolated, you’re much more vulnerable,” Tiedemann said.

Precautions such as locking doors and supervising belongings can deter theft.

“Theft is ongoing,” Johnson said. “The best way to prevent it is to be aware.”