Police urge students to lock their dorm room doors

Spencer Jenkins

With the rise of residence hall burglaries since January, police officials and Housing and Residence Life are urging students to lock their doors.

“There’s been a lot of thefts, and it’s because people don’t lock their doors,” said Mandi Johnson, public information officer for campus police. “It’s mainly concentrated at the bottom of the Hill.”

Johnson said that every year it seems as if WKU experiences a rash of burglaries and thefts, but it’s usually at the end of the semester.

“Once people find out their doors are unlocked, they figure out it’s an easy way to steal stuff,” she said.

She said Pearce-Ford Tower is the hotspot of burglaries and thefts.

“The majority of crimes are crimes of opportunities,” Johnson said. “When more people are concentrated in one area, the crime rate goes up.”

Sometimes the burglaries are solved, she said. Sometimes police receive a tip, obtain a warrant for a room and find a stack of stolen laptops. After that, police run the serial numbers through a national database to determine whether or not the items were stolen goods.

Johnson advised students to keep dorm room and vehicle doors locked, to keep an eye on belongings and not to leave anything unattended.

“It’s been pretty calm until this rash of burglary started,” she said. “Students need to take responsibility for themselves and lock their doors.”

Johnson visits all of the University Experience classes, Academic Transitions Program panels and other events, stressing the need to lock doors, she said.

According to campus police records, in 2009, WKU experienced 79 burglaries, 71 burglaries in 2010,  33 burglaries in 2011, and so far in 2012 there have been 10.

“We’re way on our way to the 70s I’d say,” Johnson said.

Steve Briggs, assistant director of HRL, said the first question HRL asks a student after a burglary is, “Was your door locked?”

Like Johnson, he said he can’t stress enough the importance of keeping doors locked.

Briggs said in the next couple weeks News Channel 12 will be showing dorm safety tips to prevent thefts in dorms.

He said he encourages students to let HRL and the police know if they’ve become a victim of a burglary. He also encourages students to ask people who don’t look like they belong at their dorm why they are there.

Part of living on campus is learning responsibility and locking doors is part of it, he said.

“The lock mechanisms work just fine if the student uses them,” he said.