In response to an escalation in summer burglaries, the Davis Police Department advised residents to take simple precautions to protect their property.
Apartments have been scoped out and victimized, since a significant amount of burglaries occur at apartment complexes and, consequently, where students live.
Since June, there have been 61 reported incidents of residential burglaries. Last year, there were 50 incidents and 76 in 2007.
The targeted items are all things that students are likely to have lying around. Laptops are one of the most common thefts. Printers, credit cards, checkbooks, video game systems and televisions are also targeted.
In West Davis, for example, there have been 16 residential burglaries in the last three months, half of which were apartments. Fifty percent of these residences were already unlocked or open.
“One out of two people are leaving their [residence] unlocked,” Crime Analyst Deanne Machado said. “That’s a huge contributing factor because [thieves] will just walk around and check doors and if they are open, they’ll be going in.“
At least 50 percent of entries occur through open doors and windows. But since there are a significant amount of unknown methods of entry, the number could be much higher, according to Machado from the Davis Police Department.
Other methods include entering through broken glass, body force and pried-open entrances.
Increases in summer burglaries may or may not be an ongoing trend.
“But in the recent past we have seen a spike,” Machado said. “It’s sizeable. The frequency at which this is occurring is greater than it has been in the past.“
A July 18 burglary of three UC Davis students left them $5,000 short. Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., the sliding back doors of the Drake Drive apartment were broken into.
All three residents were out of the house at the time. One roommate came home to first find the big screen TV and the Playstation 3 in the living room gone.
“The [person] went upstairs and then hit every room in order,” said Junior Guerrero Lopez, political science and sociology double major.
Most things were taken from the first room, while all roommates lost laptops, cameras and DVDs.
Lopez believes the thief was someone who knew them or had been to their apartment before.
“They knew exactly when we were not there,” said Lopez. “The house usually has someone in there, but this was just one of those times. We think it was people we knew because they knew where the big things were and didn’t bother going into drawers. They left all jewelry and my cell phone. Even on my dresser there were keys for a car and paperwork for the new car and they didn’t even touch that.“
None of the items have turned up since then, and the roommates have been trying to replace some of their possessions. Lopez said students should keep possessions locked up and be careful who they allow into their homes.
“You open your doors to a lot of people in general, like with parties,” Lopez said. “Have renter’s insurance. We screwed up because $10 a month could have replaced everything.“
The Colleges at La Rue apartment complex has not seen a particular increase in burglaries this summer. Students are encouraged to let management know when they will be leaving for extended breaks like Christmas, spring and summer. Since notices and fliers are often posted outside doors, anyone walking by would notice if an apartment had not picked up their things.
The Colleges has seen several incidents where there has been a visually appealing item left on a car seat, such as an iPod. As far as residential burglaries go, the complex averages one to two a year.
“Fortunately we don’t see a lot of problems but there are so many students,” said manager Trish Whitcomb. “With 600 students, lighting is well managed, so there are no dark areas where people can lurk.”
Apartment managers specify the easiest and most important precaution is to lock doors and windows. Tanglewood Apartments in South Davis equips units with different types of locks on doors, window locks, notices to alert residents of burglaries and courtesy patrol onsite.
“If it does happen, it’s either the resident has left the window open or they weren’t being careful,” said Denise Garcia, Tanglewood community consultant.
In addition, the DPD suggests removing purses, wallets and car keys out of sight from the front door. Marking valuables with a driver’s license number and recording serial numbers of electronics can aid in recovering found property.
For residents who are gone for an extended period of time, police can provide extra patrol to their homes by filling out a Vacation House Check form.
POOJA KUMAR can be reached at email@example.com.