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BY REBECCA MORIN | MARCH 15, 2013 5:00 AM

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Spring break is a time for relaxation, but police officials encourage residents to not be too lax while preparing for vacations.

On Monday, Iowa City officials released a crime-prevention list that vacationers should follow when leaving for the holidays, such as securing their residences, car safety, and protecting their cash.

“Spring break is different in that it does relate to having a good time in various ways,” said Jorey Bailey, crime-prevention officer for the Iowa City police. “The list is just an all encompassing set of tips for vacation that list a lot of things that do apply to students and for staying safe on spring break.”

Vacationers should not only take safety measures while away from Iowa City, they should also prepare their homes against burglaries or break-ins.

“We noticed there is an increase in burglaries in student housing and apartments,” Bailey said. “This time of the year and during the holiday seasons when a lot of apartment buildings are vacant are what people who are looking to victimize prey on.”

However, Iowa City police officials are aware of this statistic and make adjustments to protect residents and students in Iowa City.

“We generally do a lot of extra patrol in apartment buildings,” Iowa City police Sgt. ┬áVicki Lalla said. “Areas where there is a higher student population are where we will increase patrol, so like areas where there are whole apartment buildings that will be empty.”

University of Iowa police are also promoting safety precautions students should take when leaving the dorm and going on vacation. A newsletter was sent out Tuesday to students’ Hawkmail with advice to stay safe for the break, and students are following some of those precautions.

“I do not leave cash out or have any expensive electronics out in view,” UI junior Kristen Muenz said.

Residence halls are also not closed during spring break, so UI security officials continue their regular patrolling routines.

“Not everyone leaves the halls on spring break and they are not closed,” said Charles Green, the assistant vice president for the UI police. “Therefore, we still have our civilian security personnel conducting their regular routine tours, but we do not have extra patrols of the residence halls and Nite Ride will still be available.”

Iowa City and UI police both encourage residents to take extra safety measures when leaving their dwellings for the week.

“Crime is based on opportunity, so we try to eliminate opportunity by leaving pets behind, if it snows having a friend drive in your driveway or walk up to the door to leave tracks, and just anything that shows occupancy is a good crime-preventative tool,” Bailey said.

Police say social media are also factors students and residents should consider. Turning off any “GPS” or “Locate Me” functions on phones and social-media posts is encouraged, Green said. Iowa City police officials agree.

“One new thing we’ve been running into is social media,” Bailey said. “We recommend students to wait to post spring-break pictures to Facebook because it tells people who are following you that you away on vacation, and that could give someone the opportunity to victimize.”


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