DPS stresses caution as campus crime declines


Photo by Rebecca Rebholz/ rebecca.rebholz@marquette.edu.

Although last semester did not see an increase in burglaries and was followed by a safe winter break, Russell Shaw, interim director for the Department of Public Safety, is still stressing certain precautions for students to take this spring.

“It certainly was a good first semester,” Shaw said. “We’re always looking at the numbers, we had a spike in strong arm robberies that involved cell phones, but that’s something that’s happening nationally. We’ve warned students in the past to be especially careful with their cell phones.”

Shaw said 30 to 40 percent of robberies occurring nationally are of cell phones.

“Everyone could potentially be a target because basically everyone carries a smartphone in this day and age,” Shaw said. “That’s why I stress to be cognizant of where you are. If you’re texting just for the sake of texting, keep your phone in your pocket until you get inside somewhere. Don’t make yourself a target.”

Jordan Holmer, sophomore in the College of Engineering, noted in a November Tribune story on cell phone theft that a phone is recoverable even after it has been stolen..

“Apple recently put a new feature in their latest mobile operating system called Activation Lock,” Holmer said. “Even if your phone is stolen and wiped clean, the thief will never be able to activate the phone without your Apple ID and password.”

While cell phone theft was prevalent during the fall semester, one of the reasons crime was kept to a minimum on campus during winter break, Shaw said, was a vacant house watch program some students use.

“It’s a program DPS has done for several years now,” Shaw said. “What we do is people sign up online, and what it’s doing is it’s letting us know who’s leaving the neighborhood. We have a questionnaire that says ‘are the lights on, are the shades pulled’ because then our officers will check your residence daily, obviously keeping an eye on it and making sure it’s secure.”

“If the shades are open or if something suspicious is going on, it lets them know that no one is supposed to be in there,” he continued, adding that none of the houses signed up for the vacant house watch were broken into during winter break.

Shaw also said no crimes against persons were reported during the winter break period.

“Considering the perception of what people perceive Milwaukee as crime-wise,” Shaw said. “it goes back to being responsible in trying to keep the area safe.”

As an improvement for 2014, Shaw said students need to be more aware of their surroundings, especially when it comes to protecting their cell phones and homes.

“If you take cell phones away from our stats, we could have knocked off six or seven burglaries from out list, which would have been a phenomenal year,” Shaw said.  “If anything else, I would look at homes. We’ve seen more burglaries in this last calendar year where students have left their off campus residences unsecured when they’ve come home at the end of the night, and for whatever reason that might be they’re not locking their doors, which becomes a crime of opportunity. We saw too many of those this past fall, that people are just not securing their doors… It’s common sense stuff.”