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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Police: Students should take extra precautions for holidays

Students preparing to leave town this week should take extra precautions to keep their belongings safe while away.

Angelina Valuri, spokeswoman for the Gainesville Police Department, said there is usually an increase in crime during holiday breaks because criminals are aware that students are out of town.

There is also an increase in car burglaries, she said.

Gabrielle Shaw, a 19-year-old anthropology sophomore, is packing her electronics and locking the bedroom door in her off-campus apartment before she heads home to South Florida.

Shaw, who declined to name her apartment complex, is worried about keeping her apartment safe.

"I don't like the fact that we don't have an alarm system," Shaw said.

To protect belongings, Valuri recommends students be extra cautious about locking doors and windows and leave a light on in their apartments to make it look like someone is home.

Cars left in town during the breaks should be parked in well-lit areas, and the windows should be tightly closed, she said.

Ivette Landrian, a 20-year-old microbiology and cell science junior, said she and her three roommates aren't too worried about keeping their apartment safe.

"I just assume it's a good area, and we'll keep the doors locked," Landrian said.

The police department increases patrols in common student apartment complexes during the breaks, Valuri said.

Although there isn't an increase in on-campus crime during breaks, the University Police Department recommends students who live in residence halls take precautions, said Maj. Brad Barber, assistant director of UPD.

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If bicycles and cars must be left on campus during breaks, they should be parked in well-lit areas and securely locked, Barber said.

The residence halls will be open for students to access during Thanksgiving break but will be closed during the semester break and only accessible with a staff escort, said Sharon Blansett, assistant to the associate vice president for student affairs at the UF Department of Housing and Residence Education.

There won't be any other extra precautions taken, and students are encouraged to take valuables with them, Blansett said.

Students who encounter any problems or fear something has been stolen should contact University Police immediately, Barber said.

Landrian said one thing she doesn't do before leaving town is post her travel plans on Facebook.

"I'm always paranoid about that stuff," she said. "Those who I care about know where to find me. I don't need anyone else to know."

Not posting travel information online could be the most important precaution students can take, Barber said.

"Now they know when you're going and coming back," he said.

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