A series of residential burglaries in the University District prompted reminders of university police students on how they can keep themselves and their property safe off campus.
According to the Community Crime Mapthere were six reported residential burglaries from September 15 to 22 within a one-mile radius on campus, but only two reported in the same time period in 2021.
Sgt. Joe Albert, the public information officer for the Columbus Division of Police, said it’s only natural that the off-campus area would see an increase in robberies this time of year due to the increased presence of students.
“Once students start coming back to campus, it unfortunately becomes a target for thieves and other criminals throughout the city,” Albert said. “I think as the Ohio State Police reported, they were notified of some or an increase in them.”
Albert said many of the recent burglaries are likely crimes of opportunity, in which the intruder enters through open doors and windows when no one is home.
“You think about football games on Saturdays, you know, there’s so much going on where everyone might not be home at the time,” Albert said. “Or a Saturday where there could be a big tailgate or there could be a big party somewhere where people aren’t at their residence. That’s when we’re seeing residences broken into, cars broken into.”
Albert said there are simple precautions students can take to deter would-be burglars from targeting their home, including closing doors and windows, drawing blinds or curtains, and keeping valuables out of sight.
“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 outside the window,” Albert said. “Somebody can easily look out there with no curtains, with the blinds down, and see that and say, ‘Oh, I’m going to go in there and take it away.'”
For students looking to further protect themselves and their property, university spokesman Dave Isaacs said the Off-campus and off-campus student engagement The office is still giving out free security devices for all students.
Isaacs said students can pick up window, door and personal alarms, which emit a loud sound when activated to try to scare off 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’s a pattern when people are home and people aren’t home, that makes it a tempting target for a burglar,” Isaacs said. “Light timers allow you to turn your lights on and off at various times so there isn’t a pattern that someone has to follow.”
While the commuter and off-campus student engagement office is currently closed for repainting, students can still pick up their free security devices at the information desk at Ohio Union. Isaacs said when the office potentially reopens on Sept. 29, students can pick up the devices at Ohio Union Room 3106 for the rest of the year.
“I think this is a great service for students,” Isaacs said. “These devices are free for them and it’s just another layer of protection they can do for themselves.”
Off-campus crimes and suspicious behavior can be reported to the Columbus Division of Police at 614-645-4545.