Crime Prevention Tips

Three elements must be present for an offender to commit a crime: desire, ability, and opportunity. Little can be done to remove an offender's desire or ability to commit a crime, but we can all work together to remove the opportunity for the crime to be committed. This is the essence of crime prevention.

Protect Yourself

  • Stay in well-lighted, public areas, whether driving or walking.
  • When walking in public – even just to your parked car– walk with a friend or coworker, or call for a University Police escort.
  • Walk confidently. Your body language tells criminals whether you look like a victim.
  • While driving, always lock your car doors and roll up your windows.
  • If your car breaks down:
    • Raise the hood, turn on your hazard lights, and tie a red or white cloth to your antenna or side view mirror.
    • Stay in the car, lock the doors, and roll up the windows.
    • If you have a cell phone, call the police or emergency roadside service.
    • If someone stops to help, ask them to call the police.
    • Always keep blankets, a good pair of walking shoes, a first aid kit, and a flashlight (with fresh batteries) in your car, just in case.
  • When returning to your parked car, check in, under, and around your car before getting in (remember to look in the back seat floorboard or rear storage area).
  • Be extra aware of your surroundings when using a drive-through service, such as a fast food restaurant or an ATM; drive away if you become uncomfortable.
  • Beware the "bump and rob." If another car with multiple occupants (especially young males) bumps your car under suspicious circumstances, motion to the driver to follow you, then drive to the nearest well-lighted public area to exchange information.
  • Keep your doors locked while at home, and require proper identification before admitting anyone unfamiliar to your home (such as delivery persons, utilities employees, or service personnel).
  • If someone on an elevator makes you uncomfortable, don't get on (if you're on the elevator, leave), and wait for the next elevator.
  • Always report suspicious people or activities to the police immediately.
  • Above all, pay attention to your surroundings.

Protect Your Property

  • The theft of iPhones, iPads, and other electronic devices is on the rise; download this Electronic Device Security PDF for tips on preventing theft, and on what to do if your device is stolen.
  • Lock your door every time you leave your workplace, even it's just for a few minutes (many thefts occur within 3 to 5 minutes).
  • Secure valuables in a locked drawer or cabinet (Key Control can install or repair locks, if necessary); don't leave the keys in a nearby unlocked drawer.
  • Mark or engrave your driver's license number on all valuable personal property; engravers can be checked out at the University Police Department 8 a.m.–5 p.m. weekdays.
  • Keep a list containing pertinent information (such as serial number, brand, color, model, etc.) in a convenient location.
  • Properly secure your bicycle to a bicycle rack, and register it with the University Police.
  • Carry a wallet in a front or inside pocket; if you carry a purse, hold it close to your body.

Protect Your Car

A vehicle is stolen every 5 minutes somewhere in Texas.

  • Always lock your car doors and roll the windows all the way up.
  • Park in well-lit, public areas.
  • Never leave your car's motor running while unattended. It is against the law.
  • Don't leave valuables in your car; if you must do so, keep them out of sight (preferably in the trunk).
  • Never attach a tag with your name or address on it to your key chain; if the keys are lost, they could be used to steal your car.
  • Engrave the VIN on multiple parts of your car, such as the windows, door frames, and bumpers. Marked parts are more difficult to sell, and thieves prefer to avoid them.
  • Register your car with the Help End Auto Theft (H.E.A.T.) Program; peace officers are allowed to stop vehicles bearing H.E.A.T. decals from 1 to 5 a.m. if they are being operated on a public roadway.
  • Install a theft deterrent device or system on your car, such as:
    • Kill switches (electricity or fuel cutoff)
    • Steering wheel locks/bars
    • Tapered interior door locks
    • Steering column collars
    • Security systems (with audible alarms)
    • Tracking systems
  • When parallel parking, turn your wheels toward the curb. This makes it more difficult for thieves to tow your car.

Protect Your Home

  • Keep lights on at night, both at the front and back of your home.
  • Ensure all exterior doors are constructed of solid-core wood or metal.
  • Install high-quality dead bolt locks, and use them.
  • Install secondary locking mechanisms (such as pins) on windows and sliding glass doors.
  • If you have an interior thumb-turn lock within 40 inches of a window, consider replacing it with a double cylinder lock (check local zoning laws first, and ensure a key is always kept near to each door, so people living in your home can escape quickly in case of a fire).
  • Install peepholes with a minimum of a 190-degree field of view in all exterior doors.
  • When away from your home for an extended time, take the following precautions:
    • Place cars in the garage (if you have one), and unplug garage door openers.
    • Have a trusted neighbor or friend check on your home every day and maintain a lived-in appearance (collect newspapers/mail, mow the lawn, etc.).
    • Use a timer to turn lights and/or radios on and off.
    • If you have a monitored security system, notify the company.
    • If you live in an apartment, notify the management.
  • Keep trees and bushes neatly trimmed; overgrown vegetation provides a perfect hiding place for burglars.
  • Remove the small knob or handle attached to the end of the cord that detaches your garage door opener from the garage door; burglars have tools that can grab the knob and allow them to access your garage.
  • Mark all valuable personal property in your home and keep a list containing pertinent information about the property (serial numbers, brand, model, etc.); such property is more difficult to sell and is unattractive to burglars.
  • Don't keep large amounts of cash at home; the bank is safer (and insured).