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Holidays beg extra awareness

Nov. 18, 2005

by DENISE HODGES and MANDY SMITH, reporters

As students begin the mass exodus from Waco and head home for the holidays, the Baylor Department of Public Safety urges them to take precautionary actions to protect their property.

"The Baylor Bubble effect gets into their thinking, and they probably believe their items are a little safer than they really are," Baylor police Lt. Kevin Helpert said.

Baylor police will be on patrol during the holiday break. Helpert cautioned students to take necessary measures to protect their possessions.

"Most of them have lived on campus at one point, and things are a little safer on campus. Sometimes the students don't quite take the proper precautions," Helpert said.

Some tips Helpert gave included leaving a light or two on and leaving a radio with music playing loud enough that it can be faintly heard from the outside.

Also, he recommended making sure windows are closed, bicycles are locked, valuables are out of sight and curtains are closed.

With most of the student population gone, Helpert said, Baylor police are able to patrol the streets and check for houses more frequently.

"It frees our officers to take a more preventative patrol," Helpert said.

"The criminal element around Waco knows that this area is fairly vacant during this time of year," Helpert said.

Adam Moore, coordinator for safety and citizenship education, said the biggest concern is keeping a strong presence around the residence halls and watching the doors.

The residence halls close at 9 a.m. Wednesday and will open at 1 p.m. Sunday. The year-round housing, which includes the Arbors Apartment, Baylor Plaza and the North Village Residential Community will remain open.

Elizabeth Wallace, director for personnel and resident learning, said the department will go into "holiday mode," and everything will be locked down. Staff will be on-call monitoring, and they will be watching cars in the Arbors and Baylor Plaza parking lots, she said.

Students should not worry about a lack of security.

"We maintain 24-hour staff coverage, just as they would be any weekday or weekend," Wallace said.

Some students, though, are taking extra precautions.

"We're going to barricade the back door and put locks on our gates. ... It'll at least slow someone down," Plano senior Chad Hoar said. "I had a lot of friends who got (their homes) broken into last year over Thanksgiving. That's why I'm taking these precautions."

Richardson junior Jonathan Wade said he is having a friend come in to his house over the holiday and make sure everything is OK.

"There's been shootings over here, and this will be our first time to be away for an extended period of time," Wade said. "It's pretty scary."

Students in residence halls are also asked to take precautions.

"They told us to bring our bikes in and leave them in our rooms," Austin freshman Sarah Buchanan said.

But some students aren't too worried about the possibility of crime.

"I'm not doing anything extra," Mesquite senior John McCaleb said.