UP: Take precautions during National Crime Prevention Month

Falling victim to crime often occurs simply because people forget it can happen to them.

National Crime Prevention Month is a month to raise consciousness about crime prevention. And while USF has high crime rates in property theft, Sgt. Karen Pierce is making an effort with University Police’s Crime Prevention Unit to help students prevent crime.

For starters, Pierce said students should identify their belongings with an engraver, which can be borrowed from UP. This is especially useful for bicycles and for on-campus residents’ property.

“If property theft occurs, we will already have the information inputted in our computer,” Pierce said.

She also suggests students write down the serial numbers, makes and models of any other valuables, so if the property is stolen it’s easier to identify if recovered.

She added that the sighting of unescorted guests in the residence halls should be reported to UP or the residence assistant. This can prevent property theft or even physical injury.

Pierce said students who commute to campus should also take precautions.

“We have this program we call ‘Out of sight, out of mind,'” Pierce said. “All this means is that anything of value you may have — purses, books, cell phones — just take the extra minute to secure them in the trunk of the vehicle so they’re not visible.”

UP is also giving away The Club to students who own large passenger trucks to lock their steering wheels.

When walking at night across campus, Pierce said it’s important to be aware of one’s surroundings.

There are several safety blue-light call boxes on campus that connect to UP’s dispatcher, who will send an officer to the area, Pierce said.

“If you see someone breaking into a car, someone following you, if you’re confronted, you just feel uncomfortable, or even if you’re the victim of a crime, use the call box,” Pierce said.

Also, Student Government’s SAFE (Safe and Free Escort) team escorts people to their cars at night. The service, which has been in operation for nearly 30 years, runs until 2 a.m.

Monica Keasey, director of SAFE team, said they pick up an average of 200 people on a weeknight. However, the average dwindles to about 60 to 70 people on weekends.

Keasey said about 22 people are on duty each night, and they have 15 golf carts. Two people go in each cart in response to a call.

“We can pick them up anywhere on campus and take them anywhere on campus, but we can’t leave the campus,” Keasey said.

While the response time to a call for a SAFE team member can sometimes take between 20 to 25 minutes, generally, the waiting time is no more than 10 minutes, Keasey said.

Students who use the Park ‘n’ Ride lots, can catch the shuttle bus, which runs until midnight.

The Crime Prevention department also offers educational programs students can sign up for. These include: self-defense for women, date/acquaintance rape, personal safety, burglary and theft prevention, property engraving, and relationship violence. A complete list can be found at their Web site upolice.up.usf.edu . Anyone interested in signing up for one of the programs can contact Sgt. Pierce at 974-7487 or Sgt. Charlotte Domingo at 974-2859.

To call for a SAFE team escort, call 974-SAFE between the hours of 7 p.m. and 2 a.m.