Police: Home break-ins rise during winter break

Illustration by Sagal Hassan.

Sam Isaacs
News Editor

If you are heading home during winter break, beware. Thieves are mindful of student’s departures and will take advantage, police say.

Last winter break, which lasted from Dec. 15 to Jan. 14, there were 14 burglary-related incidents recorded in the VCU PD’s incident log, all of which were on or around the Monroe Park Campus. The number increased from the two reported burglaries during the 2011 winter break.

“There is a local and national trend of break-ins happening this time of year. (Thieves) know there are a lot of students leaving their apartments for about a month,” said Matthew Ruland of the VCU PD.

Ruland said there are steps students can take to prevent themselves from landing on the VCU PD’s incident report.

“If you are leaving, take any personal property with you, at least the things that are valuable or irreplaceable,” Ruland said. “Anything that you leave behind should also be kept out-of-sight or locked up.”

Cherelle Wright, a psychology and sociology double-major, said she takes some of her valuables home with her, but feels safe enough to leave the majority of her things in her apartment.

“I’m taking my laptop with me, but it’s just a hassle to bring everything back and forth. At 1200 West Marshall, we have keys we have to scan to get in the staircase, elevators and the front entrance of our apartments,” Wright said.

Enlisting the help of friends, neighbors or even the postal worker can help secure your apartment as well, Ruland said.

“If you know of a friend, roommate or neighbor staying, talk to them and ask them to keep an eye out,” Ruland said. “You should also call your mailman and ask to hold your mail so you don’t have a visible stockpile.”

Adrian Ampeh, a senior exercise science major, said he relies on friends to keep watch while he is out of town.

“The guys I live with, I trust them. We’ve known each other since freshman year and I know that they aren’t all going home for the break,” Ampeh said.

An empty parking space and mail stockpile aren’t the only things students can do to alert a potential burglar, Ruland said.

“If you get an early gift or just decided to get rid of an expensive item’s box, do not just leave the trash in front of your apartment on the street,” Ruland said. “Leaving the remnants of something valuable could let a thief know there are expensive things inside. Be mindful of your trash.”

Ruland also said many burglaries happen during the day.

“At night, leaving the lights on can be enough to keep someone out. During the day, they will know you probably aren’t there and are at work or out of town,” Ruland said.

Though the student population may be down over break, Ruland said the VCU PD and residence hall security will retain their usual presence and patrols on campus.

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