In response to the recent break-in of Temple Student Government members’ apartments, columnist Carlene Majorino offers tips for protection.
Like many students living near Main Campus, two Temple Student Government members recently had their apartments broken into. The result was the theft of valuables and newfound fears of the place they should feel most safe and comfortable – their home.
This incident is tragic, though it is certainly not the first, nor the last, occurrence in North Philadelphia. Furthermore, there probably wasn’t anything the two students did to cause this, which is most upsetting.
However, there are precautions students can take to make their apartments safer and to minimize crime. What follows are a few suggestions that, over the years, have proven to be a “best bet” for students:
First and foremost. don’t leave anything out in the open – not even for a minute.
This may seem obvious to most of you, but many students come from historically safe neighborhoods underestimate peoples’ intuitions and downright morality at times.
About a month ago, I had a tire and seat stolen from my bike in Center City, and when I went to a local bike shop to see what they could do for me, the cashier said, “You know this city. If it’s not nailed down, it’s free. They took everything from your bike that wasn’t locked.”
I’ve come to learn that this is absolutely true. Never leave a bike, a bag or anything else outside while you run inside for 10 seconds. Be sure to properly secure even a decoration you might want for next year, or don’t put it out at all.
Get a good security system, and leave your blinds closed.
Never make sacrifices for the sake of your landlord. Upon moving in, demand a security system if one isn’t provided. Demand bars on the window if you feel you need them. The TSG members said their landlord refused to provide bars for the windows on their house – they should have gone further to make sure it happened. Remember, the landlord isn’t the one who has to live in the apartment.
Don’t flaunt your belongings.
I often see students walking off-campus at places like Montgomery Avenue or Diamond Street, where many students live, and they’re talking on their cell phones or looking through their bags. I’ve also heard that some students are told to talk – or pretend to talk – on their phones on the way to class if they feel unsafe.
Not so surprisingly to many, this is one of the most unsafe things a student can do in an unsafe neighborhood. When a person wants to commit a crime, they tend to look for the most vulnerable person to victimize – if a student is on his cell phone, he’s most likely not paying very much attention to much else.
Of course, looking through a bag or into a wallet is another “given,” but for those who associate a desolate street with safety due to their suburban upbringings, this is a mistake that causes muggings – or sometimes more – for innocent students.
Don’t be hesitant to make friends or become neighbors with the police.
Campus Safety Services is here for you if you live almost anywhere near campus. CSS patrols 24 hours a day between 8th and 17th streets from Oxford Street to Dauphin Street. And, of course, if you’re a student in distress, they will help you if you call from outside those boundaries.
If you’re skeptical of someone in your neighborhood who has posed a threat to you or your home, it’s simple to call CSS. Granted, there’s a lot of work to be done daily there, but the Temple Police can’t refuse you – so, remember, the ball is in the student’s court. The more you’re in touch with the police, the more they’ll look after you.
Finally, don’t forget to locate the police stations near Main Campus, and find housing near them, if possible. Many students live close to the 23rd Police District on 17th Street and Montgomery Avenue, which is convenient in the event of an emergency or even just a worry.
Don’t make your neighbors angry.
Most likely, if you moved off campus and into North Philadelphia as a second- or third-year Temple student, you live on a street that was once populated completely with North Philadelphia natives. Try to remember that when going about daily activities.
Your neighbors have probably lived on that block for most of their lives and may not have been thrilled when nearby houses became populated with rowdy college-aged students. Though I’m not implying that this fact would cause a crime on your block, it may agitate a neighbor enough to complain about you or show disrespect if your actions disrupt their lives.
Unlike some Temple party-goers, many locals have families and won’t be in the mood to listen to loud music until 4 a.m. on a Thursday night. So, more than anything, always keep in mind the golden rule.
Carlene Majorino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.