‘Tis the season for giving and joy. However, for some, it is the season for taking.
Although crime rates stay the same around the holidays, thefts in homes and cars are more likely to happen, Sgt. Matthew Siufanua of the Provo Police Department said.
Because people are gone or distracted by holiday events, thieves are on the lookout for what Siufanua described as an easy target. Siufanua said it’s important to know how to become a hard target, because the risk of theft decreases significantly.
“When you look at crime, there are three elements to it — a target, desire and opportunity,” Siufanua said. “If you were to just take one of those away, you will stop the crime.”
Although robbers strike all over Provo, Siufanua said there is a large concentration of theft in apartments south of campus. Before leaving for the holidays, students need to secure their apartments.
“A lot of students come from other states and feel that Provo is very safe, which it is, but crime still happens,” Siufanua said.
Rachel Epps, a freshman from Chantilly, Va., said she feels safe in the dorms because most doors are always locked but she thinks some students may be targets for theft.
“I do think students may be more susceptible to theft, especially at BYU, because they can be careless and even overly trusting,” Epps said. “It makes them an easy target for theft.”
Siufanua said car thefts are more common than home or apartment thefts because they are much easier to break into. The best idea is just to never leave anything of value in a car; if it is necessary, lock it in the trunk, Siufanua said. He also said leaving valuables, such as a GPS or purse, in the front seat is just asking for them to be stolen. Robbers will typically go car to car looking for vehicles with items they want.
“If you are going to leave something out on the seat, you might as well leave your door open and the windows down,” Siufanua said. “You’ll have to replace the stolen item, as well as the window that was shattered when they broke in.”
Julianna Gylseth, a BYU graduate and Spanish Fork resident, was a victim of car theft.
“I had left the cover plate to my installed radio in plain sight, and the burglars took advantage,” Gylseth said. “It was awful. There is nothing like feeling like someone has invaded your property.”
Gylseth said it is important to remove cover plates and hide them in the car, or better yet, take them out of the car completely.
Siufanua said if a car is being left behind during the holidays, it is best to park it in a well-lit, high-trafficked area with natural surveillance.
“The burglar doesn’t want to be seen,” Siufanua said. “The more public your car is, the less likely it will be to be broken into.”
Burglars are rarely caught and items stolen aren’t usually recovered, Siufanua said. He said there is a simple way to recover many items of higher value that most people don’t take care to do. Most electronics, such as televisions and laptops, come with serial numbers, which can be used to find stolen items.
“It’s a needle in a haystack finding stolen items,” Siufanua said. “Most people don’t write down their serial numbers for the items they own. If we could just get people to write down serial numbers, we could solve a lot of these crimes because we could find out who is in possession of the item.”
Students can protect their apartments by purchasing inexpensive window locks at local stores to secure windows. Keep outdoor lights on and make sure the door is locked at all times. Siufanua said most importantly, take valuable objects home for the holidays if at all possible.
“If you take the desire away, you won’t be a victim,” Siufanua said.