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Avoiding crime on and off campus

Avoiding crime on and off campus

An educational facility should offer students a safe and secure place to learn and engage their minds. A survey of incident reports from fall 2012 shows that criminals are out and about in the vicinity of campus.

While little violent crime took place in the local area, with no reported homicides, robberies or sexual attacks, students need to remember they may be susceptible to theft. Officer Steven Engle of the UPD said there are incidents of people roaming the campus parking garages tugging car door handles. “A lot of things we have in the way of crime are crimes of opportunity,” Engle said. “When a student doesn’t lock the car and leaves an iPad in the car.”

According to the Lee County Sheriff’s website, two cars were reported stolen at Gulf Coast Town Center. One more was reported stolen from the Miromar Outlets-Grande Oak Shoppes area. Additionally, the website showed two cars were broken into at each shopping district. During the same period, the University Police Department website showed no cars were stolen but one car was broken into on the FGCU campus. Seven incidents of vandalism to cars were reported including key scraping incidents. Additionally, 23 thefts on campus of small items, such as cell phones, cash and skateboards, were listed as well.

The places on campus from which students most frequently report thefts are the parking garages, the library and residence halls. “Students go into the library, drop their books, laptop and phone on a table, and then go to get a drink or go to the bathroom,” Engle said. “They always tell us, ‘But I was gone for just a minute,’ but it only takes a second for thief to grab something. If you want to keep something you own, lock it up or keep it under your direct supervision.”

Carelessness regarding safety and security could be due to a belief that nothing bad can happen. “If people take reasonable steps to protect themselves and their property, that reasonable belief could be true,” he said. “But if you leave your room door unlocked in a residence hall, even for ‘just a minute,’ a thief could relieve you of your property.” Regarding personal crimes, sheriff’s records showed one reported assault and three reported incidents of harassment occurred at the Gulf Coast Town Center. No calls were received for either crime in the Miromar-Grande Oak area. This compares to reports on the UPD website for one assault, three harassments and one battery on the FGCU campus during the same period.

The campus police website offers these tips to students for staying safe that would apply both on and off campus: “Criminals select their victims based upon their desire, their ability and the opportunity to fulfi ll their desire …. Keep your car locked at all times to prevent theft of stereos, tapes and CD players …. Have your keys ready when moving from one destination to the next.”

Additionally, Engle recommended that students should not just lock their cars with valuable items placed out of sight but should keep expensive items, such as cameras and iPads with them. “Don’t be the victim of an opportunist,” he said. “A lot of the thefts we have are opportunity — a student leaves something, and it’s gone.”

Engle, who is certified as a crime prevention practitioner, said UPD offers crime prevention presentations for classes or groups on campus. Professors or student organization leaders may choose from a variety of topics, including personal safety, alcohol awareness and rape prevention. Call 590-1900 or email sengle@fgcu.edu for more information about this educational service offered by UPD.

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