CSUN dorm burglaries jumped substantially in 2010

A student walks outside of CSUN dorm property, where burglaries increased from four in 2009 to 27 in 2010. Photo credit: Herber Lovato / Staff Photographer

The Department of Police Services and the Office of Student Housing are working together to reduce the number of burglaries on campus by raising awareness on theft in CSUN dorms.

In December alone, four burglaries were reported to campus police, bringing the total number of reported cases up to 27 dorm burglaries for 2010.

All 27 dorm burglaries in 2010 occurred in first floor apartments, said Christina Villalobos, special assistant to the chief of police and community relations officer.

“Burglaries are occurring because people are failing to lock their doors and windows and when they do that it allows for easy access (to their units and valuables inside),” said Melissa Giles, associate director of residential life.

Burglars can easily gain access to rooms by hopping over balconies and using the unlocked sliding doors or unlocked bedroom windows, Giles added.

Villalobos said many student residents don’t believe this type of crime can happen to them.

“They (the residents) have to get used to living in an urban environment and the fact that any crime that can happen off campus, can happen on campus,” Villalobos said.

In an e-mail sent to all housing residents on Dec. 20, 2010, an unidentified burglary victim shared her story.

“I live in the apartments and my apartment was broken into at about 1:00 p.m. in broad daylight and my computer was stolen right off my bed,” the victim said.

The victim went on to describe how the burglar(s) got in through her bedroom window.

“I hope that by sharing my story, you can take the precautions I did not take and prevent a burglary from happening to you,” the victim added.

Student residents have been advised to securely close all doors and windows before leaving their rooms. Items of value should be securely stored and out of plain sight, Villalobos said.

“The housing administration meets with command staff and the chief from our department (police services), so that we are on top of things that are happening and continue that partnership between the two departments,” Villalobos said.

There are many programs offered to help students protect themselves against theft, including the S.T.O.P. (Security Tracking of Office Property) program.

According to the Department of Police Services website, the S.T.O.P. program marks valuable electronics such as laptops, iPods and cell phones with a security plate and warning label that reads Warning Police Identifiable, making it hard for thieves to resell these items.

The S.T.O.P program works to retrieve stolen items to their rightful owners worldwide.

Crime Prevention Unit sells S.T.O.P plates for $10 per item.

Villalobos also suggests that dorm residents invest in a cable lock to securely fasten their laptops to their desks so as to make it nearly impossible for someone to steal.

“You want to make the target- which is your property-difficult for anyone to take,” Villalobos said.

The community policing team offers on-going safety presentations throughout the year to help inform residents on important issues and proper safety methods.

“We (the policing team) have even done door knocks up there (in housing) a couple of times,” said Scott VansCoy, captain of patrol operations. “(We) went through and knocked on doors and talked to the residents.”

Giles said student housing and police services work together well and have excellent communication with one another.

“They (the police services team) get immediate communication to me about a burglary and I e-mail it out and post it on the windows (of all residential buildings),” Giles said.

Giles asked residents to look out for one another.  She said that if students notice something suspicious; they should report it to the police.

“I don’t know how to get the message out any clearer to please just lock your doors and windows,” Giles said.  “Stop thinking it can’t happen to you because it really can.”