Kelly Entreken brought her brand-new Toyota pickup to Kansas University last semester.
She left the alarm disarming device in the open ashtray, visible from the outside, so it took only seconds for someone to break into her car and turn off the alarm.
Entreken, Mission Viejo, Calif., sophomore, was unaware that theft was a problem around campus as well as in the Lawrence area.
``I really learned a lot from this experience,'' Entreken said. ``It has made me realize that I need to be more careful of how and where I leave my car.''
Although Kansas University is thought of as a relatively safe place, it's not without crime. The No. 1 reported crime on campus is theft. In 1995, there were 632 reports of stolen property on campus.
``Students have a bad habit of leaving things unattended, such as backpacks and coats in the libraries and cafeterias,'' said Sgt. Gayle T. Reece of the KU Police Department. ``I like the old saying, `Out of sight, out of mind.' If you leave something visible, such as in a car window, it is like window shopping for theft.''
Reece, an officer since 1979, began giving awareness seminars at the university in October 1995. She offers these tips for making your possessions safer from theft:
- Lock all residence hall rooms, apartments and vehicles whenever you leave, even if you're only going to be gone a few minutes.
- Record serial and model numbers of all valuables. Should something be taken, you'll be able to prove it's yours.
- Engrave all valuables.
``Things are not as likely to be stolen if there is large engraving on the item. It is too easily identified,'' Reece said. Engraving tools are kept and loaned at the residence halls as well as the KU Police Department.
Even though theft is the most prevalent crime, there are also other threats new students need to be aware of.
``Kansas University has a population of a city, and in that respect I think it is a very safe place,'' Reece said. ``Night still is the time of day that students need to take the most precautions.''
Lawrence buses travel many places on and off campus for a single-ride charge or semester fee. Several routes are offered throughout campus and Lawrence.
A taxicab service for students, called SafeRide, is funded by the KU Student Senate. You can call from anywhere in the Lawrence area and a volunteer driver will pick you up and make sure that you get home safely.
Because SafeRide is a student-sponsored service through the university, it is free for all students.
Students also should know about the golden rule of safety -- awareness.
``Notice the things that are around you,'' Reece said. ``Look for blue phones located throughout campus. These phones are enhanced 911 systems.''
The phones are recognizable by the bright blue lights on top. By pushing a button, a signal is sent directly to the KU Police Department and lets the officers know which phone was activated. An officer will be sent to the scene immediately.
Here are some other tips Reece offers for personal safety:
- Don't walk alone unless you have to. There's safety in numbers.
- Walk along established areas, such as streets.
- Use notification. Let someone know when you are leaving, what your plans are and what time you think you will return. Also, it's wise to let someone know what route you will be taking.
``We are concerned for students safety and comfort,'' Reece said. ``We want to help provide an environment where they can learn. We can only help when we know where help is needed. We want students to contact us if they feel that we can help them in any way.''