City and university police remain vigilant despite drop in number of students on and around campus during spring break

Nick Baker

Burglaries in Kent often spike during spring break because masses of student-residents leave the city. While the Kent Police Department has no plans to change routines, it does recommend that those leaving for the week take precautions to prevent break-ins.

Lt. Jayme Cole said Kent police do anticipate burglaries, and though patrols and vigilance in neighborhoods is always a priority, spring break is an exceptional time and police must act accordingly and warn people about how to protect their residences and property.

“As opposed to the transient (student) population, we’re here 365,” Cole said. “We know that when spring break is going to occur, the likelihood of burglary goes up. We’re well in-tune to that and where we need to be.”

Cole said the reality is not as simple as perceptive patrol. Burglaries still occur despite the efforts of police.

“That’s not to say we have great expectation that we will prevent and have no burglaries,” Cole said. “But we do the best we can to be where we need to be to protect property.”

Cole said while no information exists on who is most likely to commit burglary during the week, and no evidence suggests whether perpetrators are more or less likely to be students, those committing break-ins do have knowledge of the areas likely to be vacant during break.

“A burglar does not want confrontation,” Cole said. “They are going to go for places they know are not occupied.”

Cole said the most obvious prevention measures – like locking windows and doors and securing valuables – are the best ways for students to protect personal property while out of town.

Conversely, while incidents of burglary in the city are more likely to take place during break, campus police witness the opposite.

Because residence hall security is tightened during breaks, dorm room burglaries are less likely to occur.

Crime prevention specialist Alice Ickes of the Kent State Police Department said with so few students on campus, on-campus activity is looked at with suspicion, but incidents of burglary are rare.

One area of interest for campus police is parking lots, where permit requirements are still enforced during spring break. Ickes said unoccupied vehicles on campus are suspect when so few students are around.

“There have been isolated incidents over the years,” Ickes said. “But it’s not a common problem. It’s a very busy time on campus.

“There’s a lot of maintenance done. The residence halls have some occupants. There are always some staff members who stay over break, and the security aides remain on duty. Plus, the doors are closed and locked, and the locks are deactivated except for staff cards. Students cannot use their key cards to get in over break.”

Ickes said five officers are usually on patrol at any given time on a weekday while classes are in session. During spring break, only three officers will be patrolling at a time. Much like maintenance workers, campus police use the break as an opportunity to get other work done.

“It’s just an opportunity to have more officers come in on a daytime assignment and participate in training when they aren’t having to work shifts that same night or afternoon, as the case may be,” Ickes said. “It’s always a challenge for us to have a 24-hour operation and to get people together (for training).”

Despite the security of residence halls, university police still recommend precautions similar to those of the city.

“We always like to remind students, whether they are on campus or off campus, they should keep valuables out of sight,” Ickes said. “You don’t want someone walking by a window and seeing something worth stealing. Sometimes that means closing curtains or putting things away. Sometimes it’s appropriate to take things with you, depending on the situation.” ? ?

Contact public affairs reporter Nick Baker at [email protected].

Tips for off-campus students:

• Make sure doors and windows are locked and curtains or blinds are drawn. Keep valuables out of plain sight.

• Let neighbors who will remain in town and with whom you have a good rapport know that you will be leaving. Ask that they contact you if something appears out of the ordinary.

• Never hesitate to call police if you see something suspicious, be it an open door or window or a suspicious individual in a residential area or apartment complex.

– Lt. Jayme Cole, Kent Police Department