Dorm Burglaries On The Rise At WIU Macomb - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Dorm Burglaries On The Rise At WIU Macomb

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Western Illinois University's Macomb campus has had 29 burglaries reported to campus police already this school year.

The cases have been on the rise over the last three years.

And they are higher than several other major college campuses Quad City students head to.

The campus reported the most student housing burglaries over the last two years with 43 reported in 2010, and 75 reported in 2011.

Northern Illinois University also reported an increase over that same time frame.

But had only eight in 2010, and 22 last year.

Illinois State has not reported 2011's numbers yet.

But saw burglaries drop from 36 in 2009, to 12 in 2010.

And the University of Iowa also saw a decrease in the same time period.

With 12 in 2009, and eight in 20-0.

WIU says it takes property safety seriously.

And is trying new techniques to encourage students to take it just as seriously too.

"It was fun, I made a lot of friends on my floor, we always hung out, it was nice having people to interact with," says sophomore Scott Gascho. He adjusted positively to university life just like any college would want. But Gascho says he didn't always follow the school's biggest safety tip. Locking the door to his room.

"If I ever left I would, but if I was next door in my buddies room I would leave it, the door would be shut but I wouldn't lock it."

University Police say burglars take advantage of unlocked doors to steal what they can see. Laptops, wallets, even textbooks. Students must have their keys to get on their floors. But residential director A.J. Lutz says that's where their guard often gets left down.

"That's a balance we have to strike, we're always instructing the ra's to build very great communities that are open and where they get to know each, but we always have that underlying issue of how to keep everyone safe."

Lutz says each floor's resident assistant encourages students to lock their door whenever they're out of the room. The same tips are on calendars in student handbooks. And they've begun hanging door tags listing theft statistics to remind students.

"In the hopes to kind of see a change in that number."

"We're a broken record but it's just that message that we stress over and over again," says University spokesperson Darcie Shinberger.

She says students begin hearing personal safety messages at orientation. Safety messages that continue through university press releases and police department presentations.

"It's just an over-arching theme to protect not only yourself but your belongings," says Shinberger.

But it's a message the students have to follow to see an improvement in the burglary numbers.

The University Police department does work with bookstores and pawnshops in Macomb to try and recover stolen items.

Still, the department says most burglaries go unsolved.

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