Police share safety tips during holiday season

With many students out of town, it’s important to take extra security steps during the monthlong period after the semester.

With holiday break approaching, the Columbia Police Department asks students to take preventative measures to ensure the safety of themselves and their belongings over the monthlong period away from campus.

CPD asks students ensure their homes are secure, according to a news release. This includes locking all doors and windows, leaving on some lights to make the home look occupied and securing sliding glass doors. The department also warns students not to post that they are leaving on any social media sites.

“A lot of times we tell students the best thing they can do is to take electronic items of value home with them,” CPD spokeswoman Jill Schlude said. “When burglars break into houses, they look for easy-to-carry electronics like video game systems and laptops.”

Schlude said though burglary numbers were down last year from 2009, the department’s goal is to have no burglaries this year.

“(The) 2009 holiday season was when we got hit especially hard with burglaries,” she said.

CPD does not patrol residence halls, but off-campus apartment housing with high numbers of students is a high-target area, Schlude said. Once those students leave for break, there is no one around to notify the police of anything suspicious.

Schlude also said small electronics are the most important items to take home over break because they are valuable and can be stolen quickly.

“If they come in and don’t see anything accessible to them, chances are they are going to move on to the next place,” Schlude said.

Schlude said to avoid burglaries, students should not let anything draw attention to the residencies, such as piled-up mail or newspapers. CPD suggests reporting any suspicious activity to the police during break.

“Don’t leave blinds open or make it very obvious that there’s no one home,” she said.

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