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What should I do if I am the victim of a crime?


Remember these ideas in order to stay safe and secure:

Keep your doors locked

If you regularly leave your door unlocked for even 5 minutes, you will eventually become the victim of a crime. Hopefully it will only be a small theft and not an assault. Most people are assaulted in their own residences; most items that are stolen on campus are from unlocked Residence Hall rooms. During Spring Semester 1999, four subjects made a living off students who left their Residence Hall rooms unlocked for only a minute or else while they slept. These victims had VCRs, CDs, stereos, TVs, computers, video games and systems, money, etc. stolen — all because they did not practice the easiest method of crime prevention that exists: locking your door. If you go to the bathroom or visit a friend or walk down the hall, please lock your door.

Report suspicious persons

Whenever you see someone doing something suspicious, report it to your R.A., your R.D., or the Police. Just because someone lives in your residence hall does not mean that person cannot commit a crime. Someone who opens your room door, pokes his head in, and claims to be looking for someone you’ve never heard of might actually be hoping to find an unlocked room with no one inside. That’s how most items in residence hall rooms get stolen, and it only takes a few seconds. If you see someone walking through the parking lot looking in cars or trying car door handles to see if vehicles are unlocked, report it. You might prevent a car from being broken into. Watch for persons pulling fire alarms: some people use this opportunity to go into rooms and steal items. The smell of marijuana coming from a room is a fairly unique type of smell; it should be reported.

Replace locks if keys are lost

If you lose your key to your room, report it to your R.D. and to the GSU Police. While it is your decision, consider having your room door’s lock changed so no one who finds your keys will have access to your room.

Remember emergency numbers

In a crisis situation it is important to remember telephone numbers. The GSU Police ( 478-5234 ) will respond to problems only if they know there IS a problem. They might not know if you don’t call them. And don’t forget that 9-1-1 emergency services are available in Bulloch County. Remember: to get an outside phone line on some campus phones you must first dial a “9”; this means that on those phones you must dial “9-9-1-1” in order to connect with an emergency dispatcher.

Honor all fire alarms

Treat all fire alarms as if they are real. Fires can and do occur in campus buildings. Know where fire extinguishers are located, and be prepared to use them; however, don’t try to be a hero. If a fire has started consider your safety and others first before trying to fight a fire. Learn the best way to exit your building in case of fire and consider alternate routes in case fire has your main exit blocked. Most people die in fires because of smoke inhalation rather than of burns. Smoke from fires can be extremely dark and blinding. Plus there is more breathable air closer to the floor; you may need to crawl out of your residence hall in order to escape.

Adhere to visitation policies

The problem with letting your guests wander the halls unescorted is twofold: They can get into trouble and you can get into trouble. If your guests happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time there can be problems. On campuses across the country there have been cases of male guests (yes, even boyfriends) intentionally peeping into the women’s bathrooms and going into other women’s rooms. Even if you completely trust your guests you’ll know they don’t accidentally go the wrong place if you escort them.

Don’t prop open exterior doors

The outside doors to the building are locked for one important reason and, no, it’s not to cause you grief by making you carry around another key. There are people on the outside who have no business being on the inside of Residence Halls. Yes, most people who want to come into Residence Halls (who are not residents) do not mean any harm, but how can you tell the difference between a harmless person and a potential attacker? There have been many incidents across the country where offenders of all types entered Residence Halls because doors were propped open for one reason or another. So the moral of the story is: for your safety, don’t prop open doors.

These are some tips to keep you safe in your apartment:

Lock your doors

People who do not lock their doors are commonly referred to as victims. In 1997 a man chose his rape victims by checking apartment doors. He would find open front doors, go in the apartments (he NEVER broke in on anyone), and rape his victims. Even after the apartments’ residents were advised by the local police to LOCK THEIR DOORS, there were still residents who were victimized. Whether you will be away for 15 minutes, 15 hours, or 15 days, you should always LOCK YOUR DOORS. This is the #1 best way to keep from being the victim of a crime in this area.

Install deadbolt locks

Talk to your landlord about either having deadbolt locks installed or see if you can install them yourself. If you have a glass front around your door or a window within arm’s reach of the door, consider using deadbolt locks that use a key to unlock on the inside as well as the outside. WARNING — if there is a fire would you be able to find the key to unlock the deadbolt and escape? If you choose this type of deadbolt lock PLAN AHEAD for FIRE ESCAPES.

Install a peephole

If your exterior doors do not have peepholes, have them installed for ALL exterior doors. DO NOT rely on a chain lock that will only open the door a few inches. If someone wants to get in your apartment or harm you, it is much easier to do that if your door is open a few inches. Once your peepholes are installed, consider always looking out through them before responding “Who is it?”.

Remember 9-1-1 for emergencies

Not all counties or municipalities have 9-1-1 emergency public safety dispatchers. Bulloch County does, so you can dial 9-1-1 for police, fire, or medical emergencies.

Replace or install outside lighting

If your outside lights burn out, replace the bulbs as soon as possible. If they become damaged, have them repaired. If you do not believe you have adequate outside lighting speak with your landlord to see what can be done.

Always report suspicious persons

Always notify the local police, the apartment’s security office, or the landlord about ANY suspicious activities or persons that you see. The police would rather respond and find that everything is okay instead of finding out later that a crime occurred which could have been prevented.

Install solid core doors

You may be surprised to learn that all doors are not solid all the way through. Cheaper doors are not solid, and they are more easily broken or kicked in. Solid core doors are just that – solid. These doors are much harder to break down or kick in than doors which aren’t solid. Also metal door frames give added strength against criminals’ ability to kick in doors If you do not have solid core doors, think about having them installed. Talk with your landlord about this possibility.

How do I stay safe while on campus? Here are a few tips:

Use the Escort Service

Georgia Southern University Police offers a Walking Escort Service to help students get around campus without having to walk alone. Our department employs part-time students who work as Service Officers to conduct walking escorts anywhere on campus. Service Officers work six days a week (Sunday through Friday) from 6:00 P.M. until 2:00 A.M. If you need an escort other than these times, our department will dispatch a patrol officer to assist you. Call 912-478-5234 to get an escort.

Avoid dark paths or empty classrooms

At night avoid areas that are dark. Most of campus is well lighted, but you can find isolated places where no one is around if you really want to. Go with a friend if you’re out for a walk or a jog. You’re even less likely to be attacked if you’re walking a dog than being out alone. If you go into buildings on campus to study, take a friend along. Otherwise, look for well lighted rooms and buildings. The Henderson Library usually has plenty of room to study, and they have lots of computers.

Keep your valuables with you

Make a conscious effort not to leave your purse or your bookbag behind when you leave a room or a building. Keep your bookbag and books with you even if you have to go to the bathroom. Don’t leave unattended valuables laying about on study tables, desks, or in bookbags.

Lock your car doors

Half of cars that are victimized on campus have things stolen from them because they were unlocked or their windows were rolled down. ALWAYS lock your doors and roll up your windows even if you are going to be gone for only 15 minutes. If you have a vehicle that is difficult (or impossible) to secure (like a canvas top Jeep) don’t leave valuables in the vehicle. Even if you do own a vehicle that can be secured don’t unecessarily leave valuables in your car. Don’t leave spare keys on tires. If you have a car alarm utilize it every time you lock your car.

Lock your room doors

If you live on campus, ALWAYS lock your residence hall door when you leave even if it will be for just a minute. Thieves like to walk around and check doors at all times of the day and night for locks that are left unlocked. Don’t let strangers in a residence hall just because they are knocking on an exterior door. Immediately report a lost or stolen residence hall room key or an exterior residence hall door key so that a new one can be issued you. You may also want to have your room door lock changed.

Report suspicious situations to GSU Police

If you see anything that just doesn’t look right to you, don’t be afraid to call the Georgia Southern University Police. It is much better for the police to come and find that there is nothing wrong than for a crime to occur. Sometimes offenders can be caught in the act because of the quick thinking responses of community members just like you!

These tips can keep thieves from stealing your books, purses or bookbags:

Keep your valuables with you

Most bookbags, books, and purses are stolen when the owner leaves them laying out somewhere (like a table at the Library or next to a desk in a classroom) and walks off for a few minutes. If you are leaving a classroom or a study area TAKE YOUR VALUABLES WITH YOU even if you’re going to the bathroom. It only takes someone a few seconds to snatch your bookbag, your purse, or your books.

Only put necessary items in your bookbag or purse

Even the most careful person can accidentally leave a bookbag or a purse behind. Make sure you do not carry unnecessary valuables around. Students have had computer disks (containing their thirty page paper or their final project) stolen because they were carrying them around in their bookbags unnecessarily. While computer disks are inexpensive, re-writing a thirty page paper is a pain.

Put identifying marks in your books

Criminals steal books so that they can sell them back to bookstores and pocket some cash. All your textbooks should be marked in case they are stolen, so that you have a chance to locate them in campus area bookstores and get them back. turn to a page that you can remember (preferably NOT the inside cover of the book) and make a mark somewhere on the page in ink. The mark can be someone’s initials, your name, a drawing, some doodling — anything that might be fairly unique. In this way you can identify your books without reducing their value.

Check immediate areas for stolen bookbags

Sometimes when thieves steal bookbags or purses, the thieves pocket the books or money and throw away the bookbag or the purse in nearby trash cans. This can be important to victims because they may be able to recover their property (minus books, cash, etc.) if they check nearby trash cans. While it is bad to lose ANYTHING, it is worse to lose EVERYTHING.

Lock vehicles containing books, bookbags, or purses

Many times people do not think that just a couple of books would get stolen out of an unlocked car; they are wrong. Since most thefts are opportunity crimes involving small valued items, bookbags and purses are perfect targets for thieves interested in stealing from cars. Always lock your car doors and roll up your windows even if you will be gone from your vehicle for just a few minutes.

Last updated: 7/24/2018