An unlocked car, a GPS left on a dashboard and a wallet left on a passenger seat. These are common mistakes that can lead to crimes of opportunity.With students packing up their dorm rooms and apartments to head home, the Duke University Police Department wants Duke community members to keep the safety of their personal property a priority. Department officials said that warmer weather can typically mean an increase in thefts of property from vehicles."These kinds of thefts almost always involve a GPS or wallet that was left visible by the owner," said Lt. Greg Stotsenberg, investigations supervisor for Duke Police. "Students are more likely to leave their vehicles alone with valuables in it during move-out time and around commencement, so it's important to make sure valuables are out of plain sight."Stotsenberg said that between January 1 and April 30, there were 33 vehicle break-ins in Duke parking areas. However, 13 of those occurred in April. "GPS units are always popular because people will often leave them on their dashboard, they're highly visible and easy to sell once they're stolen," said David Williams, crime prevention manager for Duke Police. "A lot of thefts can be prevented by simple common sense."To keep items safe, Williams recommended that students, faculty and staff follow these simple tips:
- Keep windows rolled up all the way and doors locked at all times.
- Don't leave items of value (GPS, book bags/computer cases, Ipods, Etc) in plainview - lock them in the trunk or take them with you. Something like the circle on the windshield from the GPS mount can be sign that there is a GPS unit in the car.
- Contact Duke Police at (919) 684-2444 if a suspicious person is seen in parking lots or around residence halls.
"Unfortunately, there are people out there who are looking for these kinds of opportunities," Williams said. "So be smart of about what is left inside a vehicle."