UI law enforcement urges precaution in light holiday-season burglary spike


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With a dramatic increase in the number of reported burglaries over the holidays in the last two years, local law-enforcement officials urge students to take proper precautions before going home for the winter break.

Between December 2010 and January 2011, Iowa City residents reported 39 burglaries. In that same short time period a year later, that number spiked to 86 reported burglaries.

“We call it a rash of burglaries, where we get these hot spurts of crime,” Iowa City police crime-prevention Officer Jorey Bailey said. “Maybe we have a burglar who is hitting more residences in town, whereas maybe the year prior, that particular person wasn’t doing that or was locked up. It’s more relative to the people doing it.”

The University of Iowa police issued an email earlier this month to UI students, staff, and faculty, containing the latest version of the Crime Prevention Newsletter.

The newsletter provided several tips for people to protect their belongings in their unattended residences while they are away for break.

Bailey said there are many things students and citizens can do to prevent the theft of their possessions.  

“First thing is obviously locking your doors,” he said. “And making sure your roommates are doing the same.”

UI senior Danny Altosino said he isn’t worried much about having his property stolen while he is away.

“We have a pretty safe spot, so I’m not really worried,” he said. “We’ve lived there for three years now and haven’t had any issues so far.”

Altosino said he and his roommates take all their items of high value home with them, eliminating the chance that they’ll be stolen.

“We will have one of the three roommates up at Iowa periodically throughout break, so we’ll be able to make sure everything is safe and sound,” he said.

Bailey said there are various other precautionary measures that students can use.

“The second thing is making sure that all your mail is taken care of, stopped, or frozen with the Postal Service so it’s not getting piled up outside,” he said. “That’s a really good sign for those who are trying to victimize those who aren’t there.”

The 10-year veteran of the Iowa City police said the force has officers on patrol to curb burglaries as well.

“We have undercovers who walk through apartments and make sure they’re secure by checking doors,” he said. “We get lots of calls of suspicious people walking through apartments checking doors, and it’s not just our officers.”

UI junior Kayley Steinberg said the thought of having her apartment burglarized hadn’t even crossed her mind.

“I haven’t heard of any recent break-ins,” she said. “I consider my apartment to be pretty safe, because we haven’t had any break-ins before.”

Although Steinberg believes her possessions are safe from thieves, she said she plans to take most of her valuable belongings home with her for break.

The UI police newsletter also urged people to refrain from announcing their absences via social-media outlets such as Facebook or Twitter.

“During the holiday season, when students are gone, criminals know that,” Bailey said. “Apartment complexes where students live predominately, they’re at a higher risk, because criminals know they’re gone, and they’re looking for the easy take.”

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