Guest column: Thieves target students over winter break

Lt. Cord Wood, Corvallis Police Department; Jonathan Goatcher

Many students will be packing up and leaving Corvallis over the next several days to spend their Winter break at home with family and friends. Criminals are well aware of this, too. They’ve marked their calendars for when students go home so they can steal their stuff. They come to our community and specifically target students, stealing from their cars and homes.

During the winter break 2014-15, Corvallis Police investigated 38 residential burglaries. $61,000 of property was reported stolen during residential burglaries while students were on break. 65% of those incidents had no forced entry, meaning a door or windows were left unlocked. During the same time, Corvallis Police investigated 46 thefts from vehicles, in which $26,000 worth of items were reported stolen.

Corvallis Police Officers and Oregon State Police Troopers will patrol neighborhoods and help prevent criminal behavior. Police will find and arrest some, but you can help prevent these crimes before they happen. Don’t be a target. Here are ways to protect you and your household:

• Coordinate with your roommates to ensure all doors and windows are locked before leaving for the break.

• Don’t load up your car with stuff and leave it on the street overnight before you leave.

• Bikes are always targets of theft; bring them inside.

• Leaving a light on inside, as well as a porch light, are great ways to deter burglars.

• Prevent window shopping: close curtains or blinds to protect your personal belongings

• Light up your living room: connect an auto-timer plug to an interior lamp

• Lock it up: plan with your roommates about locking doors, windows, and garage before leaving town.

• Prevent a mountain of mail on your doorstep as thieves often target these homes. Use the free hold mail service:

• Don’t trust the garden gnome: burglars know all the hiding spots, keep your key to yourself

• Make sure your landlord can contact you. If you are the victim of a crime someone may need to reach you.

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