Safety on the home front: common sense elements to living in a safe environment

By: Carley Ballow

“I’ve had random people come to my house, shake the door knob, see if it’s unlocked, then leave,” said sophomore Brittany Funk. “I wouldn’t say I don’t feel safe living in an off-campus house, but I definitely tense up when I hear noises that sound like someone is trying to get in.”

From the emails to the headlines, we cannot deny the criminal activity that takes place on and off campus. As students, we may not be able to get the criminals off the streets, but there are ways to prevent the problem to keep our houses safe and theft-free.

“The number one thing students can do to avoid break-ins is lock their doors and windows,” Nathan Johnson said, a student assistant at Off-Campus Student Services. The simple turn of a lock can be practical, whether someone is home or not. Houses with locked entrances are riskier for thieves to enter because a loud, forceful entry into a house can draw attention from the neighbors or people just passing by.

“It is also important to never leave window air conditioners unbolted on the first floor,” Johnson said. “It would be so easy for someone to take the air conditioner out of the window, go in, get what they want and exit the same way they came in.”

Criminals don’t like to be seen. Keeping a house light or a porch light on when you are not home can be very beneficial.

“Every time I leave the house, I always leave the kitchen light and the front light on. It always looks like someone is home, or I’m waiting for someone to come over,” said graduate student Valerie Fraizer, who lives in the south part of campus.

On a pitch-black night, a house glowing with light is less inviting to a criminal than a dark house with the absence of illumination. Having the lights on can draw attention to the person trying to break in, which is the last thing that person wants.

Most theft in off-campus housing is spontaneous and random. To avoid being chosen as a victim, one other thing to do is invest in blinds, and keep them shut.

Johnson describes this as “out of sight, out of mind.”

Keeping your blinds shut is a way to hide the valuables you have inside your home. The less attention you draw to the big screen television in your living room, the safer your home is.

“Paying for tuition, rent, books and food is enough,” Funk said. “I would hate to have to pay for the damage of the house and a new laptop if someone broke into my home and stole my valuable things.”

UA students deserve to feel safe inside and outside their homes. With just a couple simple steps, students can stop the problem before it starts.

If you want more advice on staying safe, join the UAPD every month at “Pizza with Police” or call Off-Campus Student Services at 330-972-8690.