Students advised to protect their belongings as finals approach

URBANA – University of Illinois Police say it’s a good idea to register your cellphone, laptop or other property, especially as final exams approach.

In 2016, bicycles, phones, computers and wallets were among the most common items stolen, together comprising 62 percent of all thefts reported. In about three out of every four thefts, the items were left unlocked and unattended – some just for a couple minutes or seconds.

Among other places, libraries and gyms were commonly targeted by thieves who know that students are more likely to leave their belongings unattended in those places.

“It’s important to be aware of the threat,” said University of Illinois Police Lt. Joan Fiesta. “Some students think they can leave their laptop or backpack behind while they go look for a book or use the restroom. It’s really not a good idea.”

Even asking a nearby stranger to watch your stuff is not sufficient, as that person may get distracted or leave before you get back.

As traffic picks up in university libraries in anticipation of final exams, police are encouraging students to register items like laptops and cellphones at (this service previously offered by Technology Services is no longer available, and the link has been removed). Registration makes your device easier to recover through electronic means when it is reported stolen. Any WiFi-enabled device can be registered.

Although registration will not prevent a thief from taking your property, it does make it more likely that they will be caught.

“The only surefire way to prevent theft is by watching your valuable items at all times by either taking them with you when you get up or locking them away somewhere secure while you’re gone,” Fiesta said.