Student Government raises awareness of West Campus theft rates

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After evaluating the property crime situation in West Campus, Student Government is working to remind students to be more aware of the threat of theft.

Carson Jones, University Area Partners’ external appointee, said SG will be using social media to remind students to lock their car and home doors and keep their valuables out of plain sight.

University Area Partners is a partnership between the city of Austin, UT and University-area businesses that focuses on neighborhood planning and crime prevention. Jones said there are simple steps people can take that can go a long way to preventing property crime. 

“People become too trusting, and they forget that we are living in the heart of the city and others have an incentive to steal your belongings,” Jones said.

Gary Griffin, Austin Police Department district representative for the West Campus area, said he does not think students are careful enough in the area because they are not used to a bigger city or think West Campus is safe since it is close to UT. 

“They think it is part of UT, and it’s all wholesome and good, and nobody is supposed to mess with their stuff because they go to UT,” Griffin said. “But it doesn’t happen that way.” 

According to APD statistics, the 78705 zip code, which encompasses the areas west, northwest and north of campus, has a similar rate of property crime when compared to other parts of the city and Austin overall.

In 2011, 78705 had four incidents of property crime for every 100 people, and the city of Austin had five incidents for every 100 people.

Jones said he has seen a carefree attitude in regard to keeping apartment codes secure.  

“The problem is apartment codes are handed out a little too much,” Jones said. “You need to be wary about who you’re handing out apartment codes to.”

Accounting junior Rebecca Harrison said her home and car were broken into last fall when she left the door to her home unlocked because she was expecting one of her roommates to come home later. While she was asleep, she said someone broke into the house and stole her roommate’s laptop, camera and iPod. The burglar then used Harrison’s car keys to steal her GPS and iPod from her car.

“It was mostly our fault because we left our door unlocked,” Harrison said. “Now we always lock our door, no matter who is home or who is not. We have a sign on our door to remind us.”

When people forget to lock their doors, Jones and Griffin said thefts similar to Harrison’s are common.

“In general, people forget things like this can happen,” Jones said. “What people fail to realize is there are some people with bad intentions.”

Printed on Friday, October 19, 2012 as: SG warns students of property crimes