As the number of people on campus decreases during breaks, the number of crimes typically increases, and this Thanksgiving break was no exception.
During the recent break, four car burglaries, one bike theft and one residential burglary were reported to the Department of Public Safety. According to DPS Capt. David Carlisle, these numbers are unusual compared to typical weeks.
“I would say four auto burglaries in one week is not a typical week,” Carlisle said. “One burglary and one bike theft wouldn’t be unusual, but four burglaries in that short span of four days is more than we’d like to see, and it’s more than we typically see.”
During the holidays, crime trends shift from crimes against persons to property crimes, Carlisle said.
“The opportunity for students to be robbed is reduced because they’re leaving,” he said. “We look at where we are vulnerable: student housing, unlocked bikes, cars left parked in structures or off campus on the street.”
In an effort to reduce car burglaries, DPS initiated Operation GIFT — Group Initiative For Theft prevention — offering free guarded parking spots for USC students, faculty and staff in the Parking Center.
“If students want to park on campus they have to pay and the alternative to that is parking on the street where they are more vulnerable, so in order to reduce the number of automobile burglaries we offer free parking in the parking structure,” Carlisle said.
This year, 274 people parked their cars in the Parking Center over the holiday break, and none of the cars were burglarized, Carlisle said.
“We did have one car broken into in Parking Structure D during the holidays, so we’re disappointed about that,” Carlisle said. “The other three burglaries occurred off campus, but had they been parked in the parking structure, I think we could have avoided those four crimes.”
Looking forward to winter break, Carlisle said DPS will be launching a crime prevention publicity campaign, as well as offer the GIFT program again.
DPS suggests students should make sure their apartments are locked and their property is secured. Carlisle said students might want to stop mail delivery and invest in automatic porch lights when they are away for long periods of time.
“Burglars do know people are gone for Christmas break,” Carlisle said. “Students should do things to make it look like they’re not gone for three weeks so they don’t become targets for burglars.”
Although crime statistics do fluctuate during the holiday seasons, Carlisle said crime around USC has continued to decline overall.
“We’d like all of the students to help us keep crime down by not putting themselves in a position to be victims of crime themselves,” Carlisle said.