Thefts on college campuses on the rise: How to protect yourself and your stuff

Theft and the student
Theft and the student

College students may be poor, but they've still got plenty of stuff of value, monetary and otherwise. Thefts are on the rise on campuses everywhere, and students need to take precautions.

Small high-dollar gadgets, like iPods, laptops and game systems, are the most commonly stolen items on college campuses around the county. A campus robber in Fort Collins, Colo. roamed campuses in the early evenings and stole laptops, music players, digital cameras, and phones from unlocked rooms. At Illinois Universities, residence hall burglaries doubled from 2006 to 2007, while at the University of Maine, vehicle robberies are common.

In Atlanta, Ga, crimes against college students on and off campus became so common that in April, six college agencies and the Atlanta Police Department met at Georgia Tech to create a task force to combat crime against students. In most cases, campus thefts are crimes of convenience. The criminals see an item out in the open, locked in a car, or in a dorm room, and they simply take it when no one is looking.

The University of Oklahoma police department reported over $30,000 in stolen property from cars and vehicle damage during the 2007 fall semester alone. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology reports that the cost of theft at the college can total "several hundreds of thousands of dollars per year." Fortunately, MIT carries insurance to cover this loss. Many colleges, however do not.