A total of 240 auto crimes occurred at colleges across Michigan in 2010. As students begin flooding campuses statewide, Help Eliminate Auto Thefts (H.E.A.T.) offers tips on how to keep from being a victim of auto theft on campus.
“Leaving car doors unlocked and belongings on display is far too common at colleges and universities,” said Terri Miller, director of the Michigan-based company. “Campuses aren’t havens from crime. Students need to be aware of the risks if they want to keep their vehicles safe.”
Most auto theft-related crime can be prevented with proper precautions. Following are tips from H.E.A.T. for steering clear of auto theft on campus:
- Lock and key: Always lock your car, regardless of how long you plan to leave it unattended. Keep your car keys in a safe place in your room so they won’t be “borrowed” by an uninvited guest.
- Don’t leave a trace: Remove any bags, accessories or electronics that can be stolen. If you need to keep them in the car, lock them in the trunk or place them somewhere out of sight.
- Observe your surroundings: Park in busy, well-lit areas. When you park your vehicle in the daytime, check the conditions so you know what the area will be like when you return at night.
- Stay alert: Stand tall, walk purposefully and make eye contact with people you pass; don’t be distracted by your cell phone. Keep one hand free with the other hand holding your car keys as you approach or leave your vehicle. This will make you look less vulnerable and will help you maneuver should you encounter a thief or carjacker.
- Life trumps any vehicle: Most carjacking’s involve a weapon. If threatened, give up the car. Life is more important than your wheels!
- Long-term parking: Ask your college where to park your car on break or if you leave for vacation to help prevent it from being stolen or broken into.
If you witness an auto theft crime or suspicious activity, report it day or night to campus or local police. Tips can also be reported to H.E.A.T.’s 24/7 confidential tip line at 1-800-242-HEAT or by visiting 1800242HEAT.com.