University Police offer safety tips for winter break

URBANA — As the school enters its hiatus and many students leave campus, those who stay during the break should take precautions to make sure they stay safe.

With fewer people in the area, that also provides criminals with better opportunities to commit their crimes. But there are a few things you can do to significantly reduce your risk of being targeted by an offender.

“These are things we want our campus community members to be doing year-round, but the campus environment during the break makes these tips particularly helpful,” said Lt. Joan Fiesta.

Travel safely. Driving conditions in the Midwest can deteriorate rapidly during the winter. If you’re planning a trip, pay attention to the weather and check for road conditions. Slow down on slick roads, prepare an emergency kit for your car if you get stranded, and pay attention to condition reports provided by local authorities and media.

The police department never closes. There are always officers standing by and happy to assist whenever needed. If something does not feel right, it probably isn’t — you should call police immediately if you feel your or someone else’s safety is in danger. Always call 911 in an emergency or 217-333-1216 in a non-emergency situation.

Walk with friends, and without distractions like music devices or texting. Fewer people and traffic also mean less natural surveillance, so you’ll need to be extra aware of who and what is around you. Use SafeWalks or SafeRides, and walk in well-lit, high-traffic routes. Remember that the shortest route home is not always the safest.

Lock your doors. Criminals know the break means fewer people, and therefore, fewer witnesses. They will take advantage and burglarize homes and vehicles, but the easiest way to deter them is by locking your doors.

Campus bus schedules are reduced, so travelers should plan their route on the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District website. Those walking on campus at night should use SafeWalks, or make arrangements to walk with a friend.