Butler University senior Alix McLaughlin was outside with her friends at her off-campus house, waiting for pizza to arrive at 1 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6.
She looked in her front window and was shocked to see a man she did not know wearing gloves and crouching in her house. The next moment, he ran out the back door with her belongings.
“You would think that it wouldn’t happen to you or
your house,” McLaughlin said.
“I feel cheated because we didn’t do anything wrong. We could have done one thing differently: lock the back door. But we were at home, so why would we expect that?”
McLaughlin’s thief took an iPod, wallet and keys from the house.
But because the incident was not a forced entry, Butler University Police Department was unable to find evidence to trace the man or the items.
In this year alone, 44 percent of reports taken by BUP are related to theft and property damage. This is a 23-percent increase from last year., according to BUPD’s crime logs.
Seventy-one percent of these thefts occurred in academic and campus buildings, the two most common buildings being Residential College and Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Since Aug. 1, more than 126 of Butler’s police reports have come from thefts and property damage on campus.
“I feel that we are a pretty safe campus,” Andrew Ryan, assistant police chief, said. “Students just need to realize that Butler isn’t a sleepy little college town.” McLaughlin said she changed her habits after this experience.
“As soon as I get inside, I lock all doors,” McLaughlin said. “I also never leave personal belongings in plain sight, even in my own house.”
This increase in crime has left some Butler students worrying about their safety on campus.
“I’m responsible enough to lock up my stuff, but I get worried about walking with valuable things at night when I’m alone,” freshman Megan Borries said.
Ryan encourages students to follow simple steps to keep themselves and their possessions safe.
“It’s all about risk reduction,” Ryan said. “Think first: is this the right decision for me?”
BUPD urges students to lock their doors, never leave personal belongings out in the open and think of how vulnerable they may appear to a criminal.
“There’s a victim triangle,” Ryan said. “It’s you, the criminal and the opportunity. Take away the opportunity, and the crime won’t happen.
“Would you really leave $200 in cash sitting on the table when you go to the food line? Then why would you leave your $200 phone?” Ryan said.
BUPD said they want to call at the first sign of suspicious behavior or people.
“College is different than the safety of your hometown,” Ryan said. “We’re an open campus and can’t prohibit people from coming here.”
BUPD has made some additions to help keep campus safer this year.
Dawg Ride is a service that picks up students wary about walking across campus alone. BUPD is also implementing a new identification program for students to register their items so they can be found faster when stolen. In light of an increase in crimes BUPD has also increased patrols and security on campus.
This year is also the first year BUPD allows students to exchange their cable locks for bike locks for free.
“The amount of man hours it took in investigations for bike theft cost more than giving out free locks,” Ryan said. “The prevention program was effective, and we will likely use it in years to come.”