Police investigating the scene today Photo credit: Kaley Wise

Crime rates rise over winter break

December 13, 2016

Student residences and apartments are at increased risk for burglary and property crime during winter break, according to University Police Chief John Feeney.

The Chico Police Department’s 2015 annual report shows 148 burglaries were reported in the first quarter of 2015, and 118 in the first quarter of 2016.

University Police also received 17 burglary reports from students during December 2015 and January 2016.

Furthermore, burglaries are most concentrated in student neighborhoods around campus, according to 2014 crime data from Chico Police Department.

“There is a distinct difference usually between campus housing versus off-campus housing,” Feeney said. “With campus housing and the residence halls, there is that extra layer of security with the front doors and card-key access and everything else, so relatively safe for the residence halls.”

Unlike the on-campus residence halls, University Village will remain open during break and will be monitored by staff and UPD. However, residents of University Village should remain vigilant, Feeney said.

“If you see something, say something,” Feeney said. “Look out for your neighbors and if you see something out of place, give (University Police) a call.”

For students living in off-campus housing, Feeney said it is important to communicate with roommates, neighbors and landlords before leaving.

Students should:

· Secure and lock doors and windows

· Use a timer to set lights to come on at night

· Cover windows to prevent visibility into apartments

· Remove visual barriers around property, such as trashcans, to prevent hiding places for potential thieves

· Make preparations to have mail or newspapers picked up

· Move bikes inside

· Set up a camera to monitor the inside of your apartment

Feeney also recommends that students should take valuable items with them while they are away.

University Police Chief John Feeney

“If you look at your things, what would be the most inconvenient thing for you to replace?” Feeney said. “So if it’s a laptop or a computer and you’re going to be gone the entire winter break, you might want to take that with you.”

For valuable items that will be left behind, students should put identification numbers on them, like a driver’s license number, so if it is stolen it can be returned.

In recent years, students have been victims to scams where thieves pose as PG&E or utility workers to gain access to apartments. University Police has not received any reports of this type of activity this year, but if students encounter this, they should ask to see identification and not allow the person into their home, Feeney said.

“If your landlord is going to have anybody come and inspect your apartment, by law, they have to contact you first and give you notice,” Feeney said. “So don’t fall for the ruse where they say ‘hey, your landlord contacted us to come and take a look.’”

If students return from break and find their home has been burglarized, they should call the police and refrain from touching anything.

“Depending on where they live, Chico Police or UPD will respond,” Feeney said. “In cases like that, we want to try to get any physical evidence that we can from a scene. If you know you’ve been burglarized when you go in, we ask that you don’t touch anything. We realize it’s a traumatic event to be victimized, but we want people to think about the investigation and working together to catch the person that did this.”

Molly Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or @SullivanMollyM on Twitter.

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