Five Duke Police Safety Tips to Prevent Crime

Deter crime on campus by taking steps to protect yourself and others

Victim services. Anti-theft software. Building walkthroughs to prevent break-ins.These activities and services support Duke community members, but staff, faculty and students are encouraged to take proactive steps in helping the Duke University Police Department prevent crime. “No one expects themselves to be in a situation where they need emergency services,” said Eric Hester, Duke Police crime prevention officer. “We’re just trying to make our services more customer-friendly to where people are comfortable if they had to call us.”In this final installment of the National Crime Prevention Month series, Duke Police offers tips on how to stay proactive, safe and alert on campus and online. Put a Mark on Your BelongingsMembers of the Duke community can have personal items such as electrics and bicycles engraved for no charge by the department.Eric Hester, Duke Police crime prevention officer, said Duke police officers record the serial number of an item and store it in the department’s database. The item is then engraved with the owner’s DukeCard unique ID number. If a mobile device or laptop is stolen and shows up at a local pawn shop, investigators can find the electronics in the database and get the property back to the owner, Hester said.Departments, student groups and individuals interested in making engraving appointments with Duke Police can call (919) 684-5868.Track a Lost or Stolen DeviceIf a laptop or smartphone is stolen on campus, Duke Police and the Duke IT Security Office work together to find a trace of it in wireless network logs.The IT Security Office recommends installing Prey, a form of anti-theft tracking software, on personal laptops, phones and other devices. Users create a Prey account, then link their devices to the account. If that device is stolen, the user can see if the device connects to the network, lock the device by adding a passcode, delete stored passwords, sound an alarm on the device, and more.“If your device is stolen, look it up on your Prey account, and then contact Duke Police and give them the information,” said Richard Biever, chief information security officer at Duke.Check Building Security with Walkthroughs An overgrown bush or dimly lit entryway can increase the opportunity for a crime. To mitigate risks, Duke Police conducts building security surveys on a regular basis and by request, said Hester, Duke Police crime prevention officer. The surveys can result in trimming foliage around entryways and windows, as well as adding more DukeCard reader systems to keep track of building access.“As we work with buildings on upgrading their security measures, we like to remember that criminals always go to the weakest link,” Hester said. Alert Duke Police by Text MessageDuke employees and students who have a non-life-threatening safety concern can now text Duke Police. The text messaging feature is included on the DukeMobile app, which can be downloaded for free from Apple and Android app stores.Community members can also text Duke Police directly by texting 67283 and using the keyword “HelpMe” as the first word in the body of the message. Duke Police’s dispatch center monitors messages 24-7.Victim Assistance After a CrimeA few years ago, Duke Police criminal investigator Capt. Greg Stotsenberg and a Duke Women’s Center representative accompanied a sexual assault victim to every court proceeding and helped her through the legal and emotional process.Duke Police offers victim assistance to those affected by various crimes, from sexual assault to theft, Stotsenberg said. This can include helping victims understand how to report a stolen credit card or how to track the serial number of a stolen bike. “The challenges of a ‘crime against person’ is not only do you feel victimized up close and personal, but sometimes the process can re-victimize someone,” Stotsenberg said. “The thing is communicating what’s going to happen, step-by-step, and that we’re going to go with you and walk with you through this process.”