A string of residential burglaries in the University District sparked reminders from University Police to students about how they can keep themselves and their property safe off campus.
According to the Community Crime Map, there were six reported residential burglaries Sept. 15-22 within a one mile radius on campus, but only two reported in the same time frame in 2021.
Sgt. Joe Albert, the public information officer for the Columbus Division of Police, said it’s natural for the off-campus area to see a rise in burglaries around this time of the year due to the increased student presence.
“Once students start getting back on campus, unfortunately that becomes a target for thieves and other criminals across the city,” Albert said. “I think, as the Ohio State police reported, they’ve been notified of a few or an uptick in them.”
Albert said a lot of recent burglaries are likely crimes of opportunity, involving the intruder entering through unlocked doors and windows when nobody is home.
“You think about Saturday football games, you know, there’s so much stuff going on where everybody might not be home at the time,” Albert said. “Or on a Saturday where there might be a huge tailgate or there might be a huge party somewhere where people are not in their residence. That’s when we’re seeing residences getting broken into, cars getting broken into. “
Albert said there are simple precautions students can take to deter potential burglars from targeting their home – including locking doors and windows, closing the blinds or curtains and keeping valuable items out of eyesight are some of the safety measures.
“If you live on the ground floor – if you live on the first floor – don’t have your nice Apple MacBook Pro, or whatever, sitting right on the other side of the window,” Albert said. “Somebody can easily look in without any curtains – any blinds being shut – and see that and be like, ‘Oh, I’m going to go in there and I’m going to take that.'”
For students looking to further protect themselves and their property, university spokesperson Dave Isaacs said the Off-Campus and Commuter Student Engagement office is still giving out free safety devices for all students.
Isaacs said students can pick up window, door and personal alarms, which emit a loud ringing when triggered to attempt to scare away a criminal. Other available and free devices include batteries for smoke detectors and light timers
“We know that potential burglars watch residences, and if there is a pattern when people are home and people aren’t home, that makes an inviting target for a burglar,” Isaacs said. “The light timers allow you to turn on and off lights at various times so there isn’t a pattern for someone to follow.”
While the Off-Campus and Commuter Student Engagement office is currently closed for repainting, students can still pick up their free safety devices at the information desk in the Ohio Union. Isaacs said when the office potentially reopens Sept. 29, students can collect devices in Ohio Union Room 3106 for the rest of the year.
“I think this is an excellent service to students,” Isaacs said. “These devices are free to them and it’s just another layer of protection that they can do for themselves.”
Off-campus crimes and suspicious behavior can be reported to the Columbus Division of Police at 614-645-4545.