Safety tips shared to help deter local theft

Tallahassee protection services and student housing administrators agree that students can significantly decrease their chances of summer home burglaries.

Lt. Nancy Burnes, the head of the crime prevention unit at the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, said burglars commonly enter homes that are unsecured by homeowners.

“Make sure the house is locked; some people will just leave the door open,” Burns said.

She explained that locking windows, keeping shades down and having mail stopped are precautionary steps homeowners can take before leaving town.

Burnes and her crime prevention unit also offer free home security surveys.

“We walk around with the owner of the home and provide them with better ways they can secure their home,” she said.

Leon Grinnell, director of marketing and sales for Student Housing Solutions, said students could do more to protect their valuables during break.

According to the Tallahassee Police Department, Grinnell said leaving doors and windows unlocked is the number one way burglars are able to enter homes.

“On one Thanksgiving weekend, we found 70 windows unlocked,” Grinnell said.

Grinnell explained that Student Housing Solutions frequently walk their properties on all major holidays when students are out of town. It is important for residents to let property management know when they are leaving town.

“Notify your apartment manager that you’re leaving town so they can keep an eye on the property,” Grinnell said.

He added that students should also make sure to lock their bedroom doors.

“Take your expensive electronics with you. Secure everything before you go. If someone does break-in, its another step to break into your personal room,” Grinell said.

Students should discuss with their roommates what time they are leaving town to make sure front and back doors are locked. Agreeing to leave a light on in the front room is also a good idea, according to Grinnell.

Student housing burglaries do not only occur in off-campus living. At Florida A&M University, dormitory break-ins have been a problem during school breaks.

Lt. Norman Roland of the FAMU Police Department said the university is in the process of upgrading on-campus security.

“The university had been trying to find ways to go from a key lock to the type you would find in a hotel,” Roland said.

“Ask a resident assistant to do a periodic check and know when your roommate is leaving,” he suggested. “One of the things that we tell the student or anyone is to only take the necessities, as far as things you don’t want to lose, high price items like gold necklaces.”

Roland said some dormitories have storage rooms where people temporarily move their belongings, but if they are not available, it is best to leave them with a friend or take them.

ADT is one of the nation’s home security systems. The business advises homeowners to keep in contact with a trustworthy neighbor; this means leaving all emergency contact information. ADT suggests setting lights and radio to sound at certain times in the day.

Noise is a great way to scare away criminals, according to ADT.

If any students are interested in free home protection service, contact Lt. Burnes at 850-922-3331.