On The Lookout: Watchful Eye Over Student Housing During Breaks - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

On The Lookout: Watchful Eye Over Student Housing During Breaks

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WICOMICO CO., Md. - The chances of someone invading the homes of students increase once they head home for the holidays.

Local police tell WMDT they are preparing again to lookout for Salisbury University students' homes once they go on winter break in nine days.

The issue, Mary Ann Johnson, a property manager for Eric Davis Properties says is that "criminals know where the students live."

"They do tend to keep an eye out and know when they're going to be gone for winter break," said Johnson.

It's an issue realtors and local authorities  say they deal with every year around this time. Johnson says she rents to 250 students each year and has seen her share of burglaries during breaks. Her agents and maintenance workers will check on their properties, Johnson says when they know students head home.

But she also advises students to keep a light or their TV on to deter potential thieves.

"I would rather have to pay an extra two dollars in electric than have my house broken into," Johnson said.

Sergeant David Owens says one reason for an uptick in home invasions during this time is because of the opportunity.

A house that was otherwise busy, you know a week, two weeks prior, now there's no vehicles no comings and goings," said Owens.

These burglaries can be tough for law enforcement, because there's usually a delay in reporting them.

"Generally speaking, that's a very difficult crime, 15, 30, even 45 days after it's occurred," said Owens. "Whenever we are doing a criminal investigation, we want it as soon as it happened or as close to that as we can."

Students WMDT spoke with say they are worried what will happen, but are talking cautionary steps to try to prevent the crime.

"We're going to be gone for a couple of weeks and yeah we were definitely worried about it over Thanksgiving break," said sophomore Katie Lagatare. "I take home all of my valuables. We like lock the doors and take the bikes inside."

Sophomore Nora Burke says last break, she brought some of her valuables home.
"I brought home my computer, like that kind of stuff. I didn't bring home my TV," said Burke.

Realtors aren't the only ones reminding students leaving for holiday breaks to lock their doors and valuables.

Salisbury University police officer Ed Jones says before each break, his department emails students, advising them they could become targets once they leave for vacation.

"We conduct two checks per shift and we go through the housing complexes and check those and many times, actually while we're doing that, you are seeing the [Salisbury] city officers out and they also do it," said Jones. "So you're talking about four to five patrols per eight hour shifts."

Salisbury University Police tips are as followed:

1. Don't make entry easy for a burglar. Keep doors and windows locked. Report security/maintenance issues to your landlord.

2. Make sure your residence looks lived in, not empty.

  • Leave curtains and blinds in a normal position.
  • Ask a neighbor to watch your residence.
  • Stop all mail and paper deliveries.
  • Use timers to turn lights, a radio or TV on and off.
  • Turn your phone ringer off or down.
  • Don't announce your absence on your answering machine.
  • Try to leave at least one vehicle in the driveway while gone.

3. Take all valuables with you. Record serial numbers and descriptions of valuables that must remain behind to assist in their recovery should they become stolen.

4. Ask the local police to check your home while away.

If this, or any other crime has happened to you recently, tell us about it. You can send us messages on Facebook and Twitter, using #47lookout.

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