UTPD spent five days in Hodges Library looking for wallets, phones, laptops and other property left unattended. And what they found was a treasure trove for thieves — nearly 150 personal items left up for grabs.
Part of the Gotcha! Program, UT police officers distributed “gotcha cards” to individuals in the library who left their items unsecured, explaining to them that in the time it took for them to leave the card and walk away, someone else could have walked away with their property.
“As the end of the semester approaches, hours spent by students in the library will increase but unfortunately so will property theft,” said Lt. Emily Simerly.
“Too often we hear ‘I was studying in the library and went to go grab a quick snack’… or ‘I went to the restroom and was only gone for second.’ All it takes is a few seconds for someone to swipe your unattended items.”
In Hodges Library alone, reported thefts have increased by 59 percent year to date.
“A sad statistic,” Simerly said, “especially when you think about just how easy it is to prevent your items from being stolen.”
To help prevent being the victim of a theft, UTPD offers this important tip: if you leave the immediate area even for a second, take your items with you. Do not leave them unattended or trust them under the watch of others in your area.
UTPD offers similar advice to faculty and staff and urges employees to take the time to secure their valuables in a locked area or lock their office if leaving for any period of time.
In addition to these tips, UTPD provides valuable programming for members of the campus community to increase awareness of theft and issues with property security. UTPD offers Operation ID, where people can have their valuables (laptops, iPods, bicycles, cellphones, etc.) engraved and cataloged with an ID number. In another program, Theft Prevention 101, UTPD discusses theft prevention tips and is on hand to address question or concerns.
To learn more about how to safeguard yourself from property theft and other safety tips, visit http://web.utk.edu/~utpolice/.