The West Virginia University Police Department wishes everyone a happy holidays, and reminds students to be safe – whether staying on campus or traveling home.

WVU Police Chief Bob Roberts is reminding students that incidents of theft on campus increase at this time of year as more people are away.

Crime Prevention Specialist Sgt. Peggy Runyon says to make sure belongings are properly secured. Leaving property, even for a few minutes, is all it takes for a thief to strike. If you forget to lock your residence hall door, storage locker or vehicle – or if you leave property unprotected – you may become an easy target. Don’t let a thief ruin your holiday, she said.

“The best advice we can give is don’t leave valuables, including holiday packages, unattended and in plain view,” Runyon said. “Eliminating the opportunity is the key to crime prevention.”

Statistically, crime usually increases during the holiday season. The basic reason is simple. More people are out and about with more cash, buying gifts, and are distracted by displays and crowds or become a little careless and stressed with people and traffic. This presents more of an opportunity for the criminal looking for an easy “score.”

Roberts offers a few safety tips for those traveling by car:

• Plan your trip so you are rested. Many accidents occur when drivers are tired. Also, please wear your seatbelt, bring sufficient money for gas and plan to take extra emergency money for unexpected problems. Call parents or family members to let them know when you are leaving and when they should expect you to arrive. If you are delayed for any reason – call and let them know you’ll be late. Make sure your cell phone or media device is fully charged. Make a point to have your vehicle winterized to include tires, wipers, battery and fluids. If you have car problems, pull well off the roadway, activate your emergency flashers, stay in your car, raise your hood and place a piece of cloth out of the window to alert an officer that you need assistance.

• Avoid aggressive driving or aggressive drivers. Avoid following too closely, and always try to leave a large safety cushion between your vehicle and the vehicles around you. Respect the speed limits and traffic laws, reduce your speed to compensate for changing road conditions, and leave your headlights on – even in the daylight. Weather conditions can change quickly and without warning. Slushy or wet road surfaces can turn to ice in a matter of minutes; road surfaces such as bridges tend to freeze more quickly than other road surfaces.

• Trust your instincts, if something does not look or feel right, it probably isn’t. Remember, being safe should never take a holiday.

When traveling for the holidays:

• Ask a neighbor to watch your house or apartment, and ask them to park in your driveway or space from time to time.
• Use automatic timers for your lights.
• Stop your mail and newspaper deliveries.
• Arrange to have snow shoveled (if necessary) while you are away.



CONTACT: University Relations/News

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