Lock it up

By By Ana Breton and By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

Maybe being glued to your computer all day is not such a bad idea after all.

In fewer than two weeks, four different laptops have been stolen from the Residence Halls, said Barb Remsburg, associate director with Housing and Residential Education.

On Sept. 24, the first laptop was stolen from a room in the Sage Point dormitory’s Building 813. Eight days later, another laptop was taken from the third floor study lounge in Sage Point’s Building 811-but it was later returned to the owner.

A day later, two laptops were stolen out of an unlocked room in Gateway Heights, Building 807.

“Even within a community, crime can happen,” Remsburg said in a written statement that she e-mailed to residents at the dorms. “Our community is the size of many small towns?so protect yourself and your belongings when you are away from your room-even if you are gone for a short time.”

Several other thefts have been reported this year, including two bikes. One was secured at a bike rack near the Heritage Center, and the other was stored in the bike storage area in Sage Point.

Students have also reported items missing from their rooms, including a cell phone and prescription medicine.

Although the thefts reflect only a handful of incidents reported this year, in 2005, the U’s Department of Public Safety reported 34 burglary offenses in residential facilities-a significant increase from the nine reported in 2004.

Remsburg said she does not estimate the number to climb as high this year because most of the incidents in 2005 involved the same individual. The individual, who was a U student with a criminal background, no longer lives in the Residence Halls.

This year, although she does not know who stole the items, Remsburg assumes students living in the dorms were responsible for the thefts, since it is more difficult for people outside the community to gain access to the dorms.

“Unfortunately, it’s usually students who take advantage of their fellow residents,” she said.

Freshman Annika Jones, a political science major, said the stolen laptops were taken from her floor in Chapel Glen.

“We just always lock our door if we’re going to be gone for more than a couple minutes,” she said. “There’s not much more you can do.”

In order to stop potential thieves, Remsburg encourages students to take precautions to ensure their belongings are safe.

“Lock your door and talk to your roommates,” she said. “I cannot stress those enough. They don’t happen enough.”

Remsburg also encouraged students to buy renter’s insurance, which is available through local insurance companies.

Bob Garner, sergeant with campus security, said he encourages students to keep track of their belongings and recording serial numbers on laptops and other expensive items.

“A big problem in the dorms is that bathrooms that connect two rooms don’t lock because of fire codes, making it easier for residents to gain access to the other room,” Garner said. “So even if you go to the bathroom, take your laptop with you. Crime is about opportunity, so don’t take chances.”

To further protect students from crime, the housing department has purchased safes available for students to have installed in their rooms.

The safes, which are bolted to the floor, cost $70 to rent and are big enough to fit a laptop computer inside.

Students interested in renting a safe can contact Carolynn Mirabile with Housing and Residential Education at 587-0857.

However, students should be aware that the department is currently waiting for a second shipment of safes to arrive before they can install them, so they will not be available for immediate use.

If students see suspicious activity, they are encouraged to contact a residential assistant on duty or housing and residential staff members by calling 587-2002.

The U Police Department can be reached at 585-2677.

Students can also submit an incident report on the Housing and Residential Education Web site at www.housing.utah.edu.