Tips to Keep Your Personal Property Safe this Summer

Duke Police want students, employees to avoid 'crimes of opportunity'

As summer approaches, the Duke University Police Department is encouraging students, faculty and staff to pay close attention to how they protect personal property in their car and with bicycles.

David Williams, crime prevention manager with Duke Police, said that warmer months are historically when they see an uptick in bike thefts and vehicle break-ins, much like police departments throughout the region. Last week, four bicycle thefts were reported to Duke Police as well as the theft of a handbag from a vehicle after windows were left rolled down. To date, however, bike thefts are down in 2014 compared to last year.

"This time of year, criminals are looking for crimes of opportunity because it only takes a few seconds to reach into an open car or ride away with an unlocked bike," Williams said. "In all cases, it's important to lock things up and keep valuables out of sight."

In addition to regular patrols around campus, Duke Police use a special GPS tracking system installed into randomly placed bikes around campus that alerts officers if one of the bikes is on the move. Police can then track it in real-time using a mapping system to catch thieves in-action.

However, Williams noted that students and employees can also be active in helping to deter theft. He offered the following tips:

  • Secure a bike to a bike rack with a U-lock, which is stronger than a cable or chain that can be cut.
  • When locking a bike, don't just secure the front tire because a thief can detach the frame. Place a U-lock through the frame and front tire.
  • Record a bike's serial number, which is normally found on the bottom of a crankset. That will aide in recovering a lost or stolen bike.

Duke community members can also have bikes and electronics engraved for free to help identify property if it's stolen.

When it comes to preventing vehicle break-ins, Williams said students and employees should keep windows rolled up all the way and doors locked at all times. He also noted the importance of locking up items of importance (GPS, handbags, etc.) in a trunk where they can't be seen.

Duke community members are encouraged to report suspicious activity by calling Duke Police at (919) 684-2444.